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_„ Cornell Universltv Library 

BX9869.M38 C29 1905 

•James Martineau, theologian and teacher: 


3 1924 029 480 526 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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l--cu7i.e/y ^ 




Theologian and Teacher 




Second Issue, with Index 





July 1805 


This book has been written at the invitation of the 
British and Foreign Unitarian Association, to describe 
the Life and Work of Dr. Martineau in briefer compass 
than was possible to his first biographers. The many- 
sided activity of his unusually long career touched 
contemporary thought at various points ; and he became 
widely known through EngUsh-speaking lands as one of 
the leading champions of a spiritual reUgion, from whom 
men of all churches might have something to learn. 
Moreover, for the new generation of the household of 
faith, with which Dr. Martineau was associated to his 
latest days, it seemed desirable to relate in some detail 
the story of the change effected chiefly by his genius 
operating on the theological, philosophical, and scientific 
development of his time. On the organised expression 
of this change he bestowed long and earnest attention, 
and the history of Enghsh Unitarianism as a mode of 
religious belief and life in the Nineteenth Century cannot 
be understood apart from him. Readers who find such 
topics of less interest, because the area of their apphcation 
is small, can easily pass over the chapters in wluch they 
are presented. 

My obligations to the two volumes of The Life and 
Letters, by Principal Drummond and Prof. Upton, of 
course far exceed the references on the printed page. 
They first told a continuous story, and made possible 
such a supplemental study as is here offered. To Prin- 
cipal Drummond I am further indebted for copies of 
the letters to the Rev. George Crabbe (son of the poet 
Crabbe) which came into his possession after the Life 
was pubUshed : and Prof. Upton kindly handed to me 
the printed extract from the Publications of the Colonial 
Society of Massachusetts, vol. vi., containing the letters 
to the Rev. J. H. Allen, which became available in the 
same way. Prof. Upton also read most of the MS., 


and permitted me to discuss some questions of philo- 
sophical interpretation with him. 

From the family of Dr. Martineau I received every 
help, as they gave me the freest access to all paj)ers 
and correspondence hitherto unused ; and even entrusted 
to me an irregular diary of Mrs. Martineau (1828-1846), 
written in a shorthand which, by a fortunate accident, 
I was able to read.^ This diary contained copies of 
several very interesting letters from 1840 onwards. The 
practised eyes of the Misses Martineau were also most 
helpful in the correction of the press, and they aided 
me throughout with valuable information and suggestions. 

My sincere acknowledgments are also due to Messrs. 
James Nisbet & Co. for allowing me to cite some passages 
from Dr. Martineau's Biographical Memoranda already 
printed in the Life. Others appear now for the first 
time. Mr. Alexander Carlyle gave kind permission to 
quote the letters of Mrs. Carlyle ; Mrs. WUey, of Chicago, 
and Messrs. Houghton and Mifflin readily granted a 
similar request for the use of the letters to Mr. Wiley 
printed in the Atlantic Monthly, October, 1900 ; while 
like courtesy was extended by Mr. Rickett and Messrs. 
Macmillan, and by Messrs. CasseU & Co. for an extract 
from the brief record of Dr. Martineau's Ufe in their 
National Portrait Gallery. The portrait by Mr. Emslie 
has been reproduced with his friendly consent. 

Many friends have contributed to this book by the 
loan of letters, or the recital of reminiscences. The 
Rev. J. E. Odgeis and the Rev. P. H. Wicksteed have 
generously assisted me with constant advice in MS. 
and proof : and Prof. J. H. Muirhead gave wiUing and 
valuable coimsel in the last chapter. But the responsi- 
bility both for what is said, and for what is not said, 
remains with the writer. 

I The letters of Mr. Martineau to Dr. Lant Carpenter, of 
Bristol, were in the same script, which was also employed for 
his sermons and lectures. 

J. E. C. 
Oxford, April 6th, 1905. 









Norwich i 

Ancestry and Birth . 


Parents and Home-Life . 


Religious and Social Tnfluences . 

. 8 

Norwich Grammar School. 


' Spiritual Rebirth ' at Bristol . 

. 16 

From Engineer to EvangeUst 

. 22 


COLLEGE YEARS, 1 822-1 827. 

Discouragement and Sympathy . . . .26 

Manchester College, York . 


The Principal and Lecturers 


Student Life 


Missionary Zeal .... 


Family Incidents .... 


Scotch Tour 


A Fervent Friendship 


Death of Mr. Thomas Martineau 


Philosophy of Religion 


Essays on ' Divine Influence ' . 


Hopes for the Future 

• S3 





i. School Work at Bristol 
ii. Settlement at Dublin, 1828 

Ordination, Oct. 26, 1828 . 
iii. Political and Religious Interests 

Marriage, and Teaching . 

Unitarian Activity . 

Death of his First Child . 
iv. ' Regium Donum ' and Resignation 






The Era of the Reform Bill 80 

Civil and Religious Liberty . . . . .81 

Proposed Relief for Unitarians, 1772 . . . .82 

Test and Corporation Acts . . . . -83 

CathoUc Emancipation, 1805 . . . . -85 

Penalties on Unitarians Abolished, 1813 . . -87 

Measures of 1828 and 1829 . . . . -89 

The Church of England . . . . .90 

Theological and Religious Deadness . . . -94 

Theories of Whately and Arnold . . . .98 

The Unitarians ....... 100 

Conception of Revelation ...... loi 

Typical Divergences . . . . .106 

Unitarian Organisations . . . . . .108 

DisestabUshment and Education . . . .111 

Character of Religious Life . . . . .115 

Contemporary Philosophy . . . . .120 

James Mill ........ 122 

Hamilton . , . . . . . .124 

Disinterestedness and Theological Utilitarianism . .126 
Philosophy of Theism . . . . .131 

Coleridge . . . . . . , • iJS 

Literature and Science . . . . .137 






Settlement in Liverpool, 1832 . 
Preaching and Teaching . 
Beginnings of Theological Change 
Rationale of Religious Inquiry, 1836 
Home Life .... 
Friendships .... 






Interpretations of Persona Experience 
Pleas for the Disinterested Affections. 
Influences in Literature and Theology 
New Conception of Revelation : Channing 
The Liverpool Controversy, 1839 
Letter to Channing, 1840. 
The Unitarian Position 
Letter to the Rev. George Crabbe 
Letter to a Minister in Doubt 







New Conception of ReUgious Fellowship 
i. The English Presbyterians 
Wolverhampton Suit 
Hewley Suit .... 
ii. Effect on Mr. Martineau . 
iii. Speech at the Aggregate Meeting, 1838 
iv. Old School and New . . 

Letter to the Rev. S. T. Porter . 
Letter to the Rev. Archibald Macdonald 
v. The Dissenters' Chapels Act, 1844 

. 204 
. 205 
. 209 
. 210 
. 211 
. 215 
. 222 
. 223 
. 227 
• 233 




Aim of his Ministry .... 

Worship and Preaching 

Hymns for the Christian Church and Home, 1840 

The Preacher's Labours . 

Endeavours after the Christian Life, 1843 

Congregational and Public Interests . 

The Com Laws and American Slavery 

Temperance and Peace 

Acquaintance with Mrs. Carlyle 

Removal to Park Nook, 1844 . 

Illness and Death of Herbert Martineau, 1846 

Teaching at Home and School . 

Plans for German Study . 

Farewell to Paradise Street, 1848 






Lectureship at Manchester New College, 1840 . .281 

Range of his Courses : Political Economy . . .282 

Necessity and Freedom ...... 284 

PoUtical Economy ....... 287 

First Sketch of new Ethical Theory, 1845 . . . 289 
Religious and Ontological Consequences . . . 298 
Bases of Theism ....... 302 

Contents of Perception ...... 304 

Experience of Causation ...... 306 

Unity of Will in Nature . . . . . . 309 

The ' All-comprehending Spirit ' . . . .312 

The ' Annus MirabiUs ' : Germany, 1848-1849 . . 314 



Strenuous Years ...... 

i. A Church and its Work ..... 

Hope Street Church Opened, Oct. i8, 1849. 





ii. The Gospel of Conscience. . . . . . 


Communion of Spirit ..... 


Removal of Manchester New College to London . 


Call for His Services as lecturer . . . . 


iii. Home and Social Interests .... 


iv. Ethics in Literature and Affairs. 


The Church of England 


Boman Catholicism ...... 


The Crimean War 


American Slavery 

. 356 



The ' Vaughan Sermon ' . . 
The Origins of Christianity- 
Was Jesus the Messiah ? . 


Revelation in Christ 


' One Gospel in Many Dialects ' 
Psychology and Metaphysics 
Natural Dualism 


The Relativity of Knowledge 
Nature and God 


The ' Unit of Volition ' 


College Rearrangements . 
Correspondence with F. W. New 
Liverpool Farewells . 


. 385 


• 397 



Settlement in Gordon Street .... 
i. Adjustment to new Conditions .... 

■ 399 
. 400 



ii. Unitarianism and Theological Movements , . . 402 

iii. Ministry at Little Portland Street Chapel, 1859 . . 407 

The Preacher's Aim ....... 410 

Congregational Devotion ...... 413 

New Testament Expositions ..... 416 

Day and Sunday Schools . . . . . -417 

iv. Social and Political Interests . . . . .421 

Civil War in America ...... 425 

Education ........ 429 

V. Philosophy in University College, 1866 . . . 432 

Death of Rev. J. J. Tayler, 1869 . . . 434 

Father Suf&eld, Keshub Chunder Sen, F. D. Maurice . 435 

vi. Retirement from the Ministry, 1872 .... 438 



Church and State ....... 442 

i. ' The Unitarian Position ' : ' Church Life or Sect Life ? ' 443 

ii. Need of a Representative Congregational Organisation. 447 

iii. *The Living Church through Changing Creeds ' . .451 

British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1867. . 45 s 

iv. The Free Christian Union, 1 867-1 870 . . . 456 



Appointment on the Death of the Rev. J. J 

The Metaphysical Society. 

Doctrine of Causation 

Herbert Spencer on Evolution 

Religion and Modern Materialism 

A Study of Spinoza . 

Relations with his Students 

Method of Teaching . 

Sympathy and Criticism . 

Interest in Students' Careers 







' Open Trusts ' once more 

Testimonies to Unitarianism 

Friendships and Anxieties. 

The Scottish Home . 

Death of Mrs. Martineau, 1877 

Work resumed 

' Loss and Gain in Recent Theology,' 1881 

Interest in Pubhc Affairs : Correspondence 

Eightieth Birthday : College Farewells 





Congratulatory Address, 1888 

Manchester New College Centenary, 1886 

Opening of the College at Oxford 

Proposal for Church Federation, 1887. 

Organisation Scheme, and Leeds Conference, 1888 

Chicago Parliament of ReUgions 

Occupations in Retirement 

Impressions of the Poets . 

English and American Friendships 

Literary Work and General Outlook . 

Ninetieth Birthday, and Last Years . 





Treatises on Ethics and Theism : their Late Publication 

Stages of Development 

Letter to the Rev. J. H. Allen, 1884 

Types of Ethical Theory, 1885 . 

Nature of Moral Judgments 

Defence of Moral Freedom 

Origin of Moral Ideas 





iii. A Study of Religion, iSS8 . 

Religion Defined .... 

Perception of Causality 

God and the World .... 

Character of the One Cause 

Inference or Vision .... 

The Life to Come .... 
iv. The Seat of Authority in Religion, 1890 

The Founder of Christianity 

Justification of the ' Subjective Method ' 

Summary of his Position to Rev. W. H. Fish 

Conclusion ..... 
Index . 




Page 23, transpose the figures in the text referring to the notes. 
3&, after ' Chester ' add ' Bristol.' 
37* 1. I, for 'Shiell' read 'Steel.' 
632, for ' Newcastle ' read ' Halifax.' 
67, 1. 14, for ' Shiel ' read ' Shell.' 
823, for 1793 read 1773. 
104, 1. 10, for ' Review ' read ' View.' 
1042. for ' Soul ' read ' Life.' 
1371-, for 1789 read 1798. 

140, 1. 3, for ' was founded ' read ' held its first public 
,, 207, 1. 19, Watts and Neal have been wrongly reckoned 
with Calamy as Presbyterians. For ' leading 
Presbyterians ' read ' hberal Nonconformists.' 
„ 23s, 1. 7 from bottom, strike out ' i.e.' 
,, 349, the second note should be marked 2 in text and below. 
,, 444'', the words ' for Lancashire and Cheshire ' should 
follow ' Provincial Assembly ' in the next line. 

To the acknowledgments in the preface should be added the 
mention of the kindness of Miss Alice Winkworth in permitting 
the free use of passages in the Life of Catherine Winkworth. 

Oxford, 27 July, 1905. 


Photogravure of Portrait painted by 

A. E. Emslie in 1888 .... Frontispiece. 

Photogravure of Engraving of Portrait 

painted by C. Agar in 1847 . . Facing page 141. 


THE EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the 
city of Norwich was, in George Borrow's judgment, 
' perhaps the most curious specimen extant of the 
genuine old EngUsh town.' Its streets were still 
narrow and winding ; portions of its old walls 
stand even to this day ; the last of its twelve gate- 
houses was only demolished in 1808. The stately 
Norman cathedral, with its spire second only to 
that of Salisbury, the massive buildings of the 
Castle, the noble proportions of St. Andrew's Hall — 
once the nave of the Black Friars' Church, — the 
unusual number of its parish churches, all bore 
witness to its antiquity, its wealth, and its im- 
portance, and justified the pride of its citizens.^ 
Many a famous name had been connected with it ; 
and from the fourteenth century onwards it had 
been a centre for large and important groups of 
foreign immigrants, Flemish, Dutch, and Walloon.^ 

1 ' Norwich formerly was one of the first manufacturing towns 
in the kingdom. Every week large quantities of goods were 
exported to Hanover and Prussia, and the nuns of Italy and 
Spain were clothed with the manufactures of the city.' — Speech 
of Mr. Peter Martineau, Norwich Mercury, May 14, 1856. 

' See R. L. Poole, History of the Huguenots of the Dispersion, 
1880, p. 90. 

EARLY YEARS, 1803-1822 [cH. 

To Norwich came Gaston Martineau, a surgeon 
of Dieppe, when the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes in 1685 drove him from his own country. 
He belonged to the South-West, his father, EUe 
Martineau, having Uved at Bergerac in the depart- 
ment of Dordogne. Another branch of the family 
was settled at Fontenoy (Yonne), where Louis 
Martineau, wealthy and respected, had a son Denis 
bom to him in 1651, who found refuge in Holland 
when he could no longer worship in his own country 
according to the faith of his fathers.^ They sprang, 
apparently, from a Romain Martineau, of I-andesse, 
living about 1450, who bore the title Sieur de Romas, 
and was designated as ' iicwyer.'' ^ 

Among the eighty thousand exiles who poured 
in to England and Ireland after 1685, Gaston 
Martineau did not come unfriended. On the same 
vessel was a family named Pierre, and to a daughter 
of this house, Marie, he was married at Spitalfields 
in 1693.^ There his first child was baptized in 
1694. A year later he was established at Norwich, 
and the records of the Walloon Church in 1695 
show him the father of a second child. Six others 

' Information from Mr. DaVid Martineau : and Ma^azin fiir 
die Literatur des Auslandes, 1876, Aug. 12. 

" Another tradition, which does not, however, tally with 
the information of the Registers, traced the family line to a 
Louis Martineau, who was apprenticed to a German printer, 
and married a Lutheran lady. This Louis, it is said, helped to 
establish a press at the Sorbonne ; and his descendants were 
Protestants, no longer of the Lutheran but of the Huguenot 
type. The story halts a little, because printing was introduced 
into Paris in 1482, a generation too soon for a Lutheran bride. 

'A. W. Jackson, James Martineau, p. 2. 


followed. David, the third, would be a surgeon, 
too ; and his son, David, grown to man's estate, 
carried on the family tradition. This David married 
Sarah Meadows, grand-daughter of John Meadows 
(1622-1696), who was ejected from the living of 
Ousden, Suffolk, in 1662. Her sister Margaret 
became wife of Richard Taylor, eldest son of Dr. 
John Taylor, once the honoured pastor of the 
Octagon Chapel, Norwich.^ The sisters were early 
left widows ; to one had been bom eight children, 
to the other seven. The eldest Martineau, bearing 
the name Philip Meadows, followed the noble service 
of his father David, who had caught a fatal sickness 
among his patients and died at the age of thirty- 
seven. The seventh and youngest, Thomas, became 
a manufacturer of bombazine and camlet, woollen 
stuffs for which Norwich had long been famous. 
Other members of the two families, Martineaus 
and Taylors, were settled in and around the city, 
and the most intimate connexions were maintained 
among them. 

Thomas Martineau is described by an old family 
friend as ' of a quiet calm demeanour of which the 
value was much felt.' He must have had also a 
gentle and persistent energy, which enabled him 
to build up a considerable business. He married 
Elizabeth Rankin, of Newcastle-upon-T5me, and 
to them was bom in the large family house in 
Magdalen Street on April 21st, 1805, a seventh 
child who received the name of James. Three 

1 Dr. Taylor was minister at Norwich 1733-1757. The first 
stone of the New Octagon Chapel was laid in Feb., 1754, and 
the building was opened in May, 1756. 

4 EAKLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [ch.i 

brothers, Thomas, Henry, and Robert, had pre- 
ceded him, the youngest of these being already 
seven years old ; and this superiority in age on 
the part of his brothers often rendered James lonely 
in his boyhood. There were three sisters also, 
Elizabeth, Rachel, and Harriet. Harriet could 
recall in after years how, when nearly three, she 
had foimd herself within the door of the best bed- 
room, ' an impressive place from being seldom 
used, from its having a dark polished floor, and 
from the awful large gay figures of the chintz bed- 
hangings.' That day the curtains were drawn, 
the blinds were down, and a fire was burning in 
the grate. An unknown nurse beckoned her 
across the slippery boards, placed her in a tiny 
chair, and laid a bundle of flannel across her knees. 
When it was opened, she saw the little red face 
of the baby.^ 

Other notable children were then rising into 
boyhood. Thomas Arnold and Thomas Carlyle 
were already ten years old. Pusey was five, and 
John Henry Newman four ; the New England 
Emerson was two. Disraeli, to whom Dr. Martineau 
ultimately gave in his political allegiance, was bom 
in 1804. To Martineau's own year belonged two 
men who were to become his friends, Francis William 
Newman, and Frederick Denison Maurice, The 
Newmans were of Huguenot hneage through their 
mother ; Maurice was descended from one of the 
Ejected of 1662. A year later came John Stuart 
Mill ; and Gladstone, Tennyson, and Darwin followed 
in 1809. Truly, a noble group of minds among which 
'Harriet Martineau, Autobiography, i. 13. 


to be ranked : for Gladstone was afterwards to 
describe him as ' first among living English thinkers.' 
He himself was proud — not of the ancestry which 
doubly pledged him to religious faithfulness, but of 
his nationality. At fifty he could say, — ' The 
course of time and of educational association has 
worn out whatever was foreign in my nature, and 
I do not hesitate to pronounce myself emphatically, 
almost bigotedly, an Englishman.'^ 


The seventh child — another sister was bom yet 
later — James Martineau was in the same position 
as Arnold, concerning whom he afterwards remarked 
that ' a large proportion of the men who have 
obtained distinction in the world, have been the 
last members of a large, or, as the Irish expressively 
term it, a long family.' ^ This eminence he was 
inclined to attribute among the middle classes to 
the freer hand usually applied by parents to their 
latest charge, and the larger consequent proportion 
of self-formation in the character. In his own 
case, this power was undoubtedly present in 
eminent measure, but it was first evoked and 
guided by an influence which only entered his 
life when he had been sent away from the family 
home. There, indeed, everything was well-ordered, 
earnest, and refined, but as the veteran of seventy 
years looked back upon his childhood, he was 
conscious that it had not been altogether happy. 

The family life was doubtless animated by a 

'Speech at Liverpool, June 22, 1855. 'Essays, i. 46. 

6 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [en.! 

deep and sincere affection, but this was rather 
realised afterwards by its results than actually felt 
at the time. The head of the household left the 
impression of being ' the most unselfish of men ' ; 
and his daughter Harriet further described him as 
' humble, simple, upright, self-denying, affectionate 
to as many people as possible.' He was in no sense 
a man of learning ; but he and William Taylor 
had stood with their slates at Mrs. Barbauld's knee, 
and he knew the value of a sound education. So 
Harriet recorded the gratitude of the whole family 
to both their parents ' for the self-sacrificing 
efforts they made, through all the vicissitudes of 
the times, to fit their children in the best possible 
manner for independent action in life.'^ But the 
pressure of external events was severe. The year 
of James's birth was the year of Austerlitz. Then 
came the ascendancy of Napoleon, and the desperate 
struggle which ruined so many English merchants 
and manufacturers. Harriet could recall what her 
father's face was like when he told her mother 
of the increase of the income tax to two shiUings 
in the pound. When taxation had reached its 
highest point, and foreign ports were closed against 
EngUsh merchandise, a wide-spread distrust and 
anxiety filled the most cautious traders with depres- 
sion and foreboding ; and housekeeping was con- 
ducted with a rigid economy which later generations 
could hardly realise. ^ 

^ Autobiography, i. 127. 

' The census figures for Norwich are not without significance 
in this respect : 1801, population 36,906 ; 181 1, 37,313 ; 1821, 


The home-life under these circumstances took 
its tone rather from the mother than the father, 
Mrs. Martineau came from a sturdy Northumbrian 
stock. She was. a woman of eminent capacity, 
and often assisted her husband in his business 
correspondence. ' Married to a man of more tender- 
ness and moral refinement than force of self-asser- 
tion,' wrote her son James in the memories of three 
score and ten, ' she naturally played the chief part 
in the governance of the household.' That a certain 
vigour of discipline prevailed in it may be inferred 
from the general conditions of the time, but in 
his eightieth year Dr. Martineau could contrast 
it not unfavourably with the temper of a later age : — 

In old Nonconformist families especially, the Puritan 
tradition and the reticence of a persecuted race, had left their 
austere impress upon speech and demeanour unused to be free ; 
so that in domestic and social life there was enforced, as a 
condition of decorum, a retenue of language and deportment 
strongly contrasting with our modem effusiveness. But in 
the process of change to more genial ways that Norwich home 
was in advance of the average movement rather than behind ; 
and in few others have I found the medium better observed 
between the opposite danger of bidding high for profession 
of enthusiasm and quenching its reality by coldness an4 

When Dr. Martineau said of his mother that 

■ her understanding was clear, and her will, with a 

duty once in sight, not to be diverted,' he really 

pointed with filial reverence to the source of qualities 

conspicuous in himself : ' but behind these,' he 

added, ' and giving them their direction, was an 

inexhaustible force of affection ; and not behind 

them only, but glowing through them into her 

expressive features and fervent words.' Happy 

' Letter to the Daily News, December 30, 1884. 

8 EARLY YEARS, I805-1822 [cH. i 

was it for him that this wisdom and tenderness 
were to accompany him to his maturity. The 
family correspondence of after days bears ample 
testimony to the supporting guidance and the 
responsive love of mother and son. 


Neither James nor his sister Harriet was physically 
robust. At five years old he seemed, in an old 
friend's retrospect, ' an unusually grave and thought- 
ful little boy.' He shrank from rough sports and 
rude companionship. The home lessons were con- 
ducted at first by the elder brothers and sister. 
Thomas, who was ' silent and reserved generally, 
and somewhat strict,' taught the younger sisters 
Latin grammar ; Henry gave instruction in writing 
and arithmetic, and Elizabeth in French ; and 
in these studies James was probably the early 
companion of Rachel and Harriet. The boy had 
to suffer from some fraternal tyranny, well-meant, 
no doubt, but exasperating to a shrinking shsmess. 
The brothers took him to the river, and taught 
him to swim by forcing him to jump off a plank 
into the stream. But he was already learning 
lessons of self-command. An early memory was 
preserved of a certain dish of gooseberries which 
were to be prepared for cooking. The child was 
summoned from his garden play, and, overcoming 
his reluctance, slowly began to pick off the heads 
and tails. Then he pressed his lips together reso- 
lutely, and said to himself, 

' The man of Calvary triamphed here. 
Why should his faithful followers fear ? ' 1 

> The couplet is from one of Mrs. Barbauld's hymns. 


Grave and reserved was the religious life of such 
a home. There was the Sunday worship at the 
Octagon Chapel, of which Mr. Thomas Martineau 
was sometime a deacon. It had been opened in 
1756, and it was described the next year by John 
Wesley as ' perhaps the most elegant in Europe.' 
But 'how can it be thought,' added the great 
preacher, ' that the old coarse Gospel should find 
admission here ? ' Dr. John Taylor, for whom 
the meeting-house was built, ^ was, however, other- 
wise minded. In his conception religion was in- 
dependent of all sectarian distinctions. ' We are 
Christians,' he declared in his dedicatory sermon, 
' and only Christians ; and we consider all our 
feUow-Protestants, of every denomination, in the 
same light — only as Christians — and cordially em- 
brace them all in affection and charity as such.' 
In such a spirit different forms of belief were able 
to subsist side by side without irritation and 
alarm, while a gradual change took place in the 
direction of a definite Unitarian theology.^ 

The pastor of James Martineau's boyhood was 

* The old meeting-house of 1687 was pnlled down owing to 
defects in the building in 1753. 

' The memories of Presbyterian descent, however, were still 
preserved ; and James Martineau afterwards recalled ' his 
extreme abhorrence, when a child, of Matthew Henry's Cate- 
chism, which he always thought the dullest piece of religious 
instruction he ever had to do with.' — Speech at the Provincial 
Meeting at Chester, Inquirer, June 18, 1846. On the other hand 
he was early alive to reverence for the grandeur of the world. 
Pleading at the Sunday School Association, London, 1858, 
for the admission of ' real knowledge ' which should not be 
stamped as merely ' secular,' he said : ' I can recollect the 
period when, myself almost a child, I first acquired a picture 
of the universe, and I do not think any more religious impres- 
sion was ever produced on my mind.' — Inquirer, May 29, 1858. 

10 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [ch. i 

the Rev. Thomas Madge, who came to Norwich in 
1811. He had been brought up in the Church of 
England, and his secession from the Establishment 
on doctrinal grounds led him to lay greater stress 
on the nature and contents of his new faith. Full 
of quick feeling, he was an enthusiastic student of 
Wordsworth, and Mr, Crabb Robinson records a 
visit to Norwich on Aug. 13, 1814, when he stole 
out from the theatre, whither he had accompanied 
some friends, to call on Madge, at whose apartments 
he foimd 'the great new poem of Wordsworth, 
The Excursion." Doubtless this admiration helped 
to shape ' the sweet and solemn impression ' which 
Harriet Martineau remembered as the effect of 
his preaching. In her brother James the silvery 
speech of the young minister wrought abiding 
memories. ' Some of my first awakenings of con- 
science and of spiritual faith,' he wrote to Mrs. 
Madge after her husband's death in 1870, ' came 
to me in the tones of that sweet voice, and the inward 
echoes were ever renewed when I heard it again, 
in preaching or in prayer.'^ 

From her earliest years Harriet had been easily 
moved by religious feeling, and she drew her chief 
pleasure from that source. She could remember 
waking one summer morning when she was five 
years old, in all the splendour of a crimson and 

^ Memoir, by the Rev. W. James, p. 324. From another 
point of view, however, he wrote to the Rev. E. M. Daplyn, 
then minister of the Octagon Chapel, after his ninety-third 
birthday — ' Endearing as are many of my Norwich recollections, 
and the Octagon part in their history, they belong to an experience 
more or less apart from the opening of the chapter of continuous 
inner life, of what perhaps the orthodox Christian would call 
the crisis of conversion.' 


purple sunrise. The ' baby ' was in his crib, and 
while the nurse slept she contrived to get him to 
the window, and flung open the casement. ' The 
sky was gorgeous,' she relates, 'and I talked very 
religiously to the child.' ^ A little later they were 
partners in games, as they were later stUl in studies ; 
and their games and their studies had a Biblical air. 
A story used to be told of a visitor who, inquiring 
after the children, was referred to the garden. James 
was buried in the earth with his head only above 
ground, and Harriet stood beside. ' Oh,' she ex- 
plained, ' we're playing at the resurrection, and 
I've promised him he shall rise again ! ' Next, 
she is poring over the geography of the New Testa- 
ment, making harmonies of the Gospels, and plod- 
ding through Belsham's Exposition of the Epistles ; 
while he, set to read the Bible on Sunday, flies 
from Genesis to Isaiah between the return from 
chapel and dinner, ' skipping the nonsense, you 
know, Mamma.'^ Pass on a few years, and the boy 
from school meets his sister at seven in the morning 
to study Lowth's Prelections in the Latin* before 

Serious, no doubt, was the home atmosphere ; 
but its inmates had many interests ; and outside 
were the large families of cousins who frequently 
met at each other's houses. The elder brothers 
teased Harriet about her economic studies ; at 
Christmas games they charged her as a forfeit to 

^Autobiography, i. 17. 

2 The story is told with inevitable variations ; compare Life, 
i. 10 ; and the Christian Life for April 21, 1876. 

' Autobiography, i. loi. 

12 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [ch. i 

make every person present understand the operation 
of the Sinking Fund ; and they addressed mock 
inquiries to her as to the state of the Debt. But 
the evening readings in history and biography and 
the new reviews went on uninterrupted. Harriet 
made herself a sort of ' walking concordance ' of 
Shakspeaire and Milton, and Mrs. Martineau's 
favourite poet was Bums. Moreover, the Taylor 
cousins were active in original production, and 
the Martineaus were called in to help. Large family 
gatherings were held at intervals, when essays and 
poems contributed by the circle of kindred were 
read, and plays of home-composition were acted, 
in which James could remember taking part.^ 

Mr. John Taylor, who wrote a number of verses 
and h5mins in wide repute, was the friend of Mackin- 
tosh ; and Mrs. Taylor was quite able to hold her 
own, composedly darning the family stockings 
while she conversed with Southey or Brougham. 
Sir James Smith, the botanist, was also an esteemed 
writer of hymns for the Octagon services, where 
he was deacon at the time of his death in 1828* 
Dr. Rigby, physician and agriculturist, grandson 
of Dr. John Taylor, apprenticed to David Martineau 
in 1762, was another kinsman. High in civic repute, 
he served as Mayor of Norwich in 1805, and his son 
Edward, who was only a year senior to James 
Martineau, was his comrade in the Norwich school; 
At the hospitable house of Dr. Alderson (the Mar- 
tineaus' family physician), another distinguished 

^ Letter to Mrs. Ross (daughter of Lady Dufi Gordbn, and 
great-grand-daughter of Mr. John Taylor), in her Three Genera- 
tions of English Women, 1888, vol. i. 

§ iv] THE HOME tIFE I3 

Unitarian, his daughter, Mrs. Opie, widow of the 
painter, wrote her tales, and cultivated society, and 
planned her philanthropies. And through WiUiam 
Taylor,^ the friend of Southey, who had translated 
Lessing's ' Nathan,' Burger's ' Lenore,' and Goethe's 
' Iphigenia in Tauris,' as early as 1790, the Uterary 
outlook was yet further extended. He taught 
Borrow German, and when the young Martineau 
was a student at York, and there were family plans 
for sending him to Gottingen, it is possible that 
William Taylor may have done a like service for 
him.2 Such a society could not fail to stimulate. 
William Taylor and Thomas Martineau had been 
school-fellows at Mr. Barbauld's, at Palgrave, in 
Suffolk : and when they became men, and Mrs. 
Barbauld sometimes paid a visit to Norwich, she 
always spent a long morning in the house in Magdalen 
Street. The children had learned her delightful 
' Hymns in Prose ' ; ' we knew she was very learned,' 
wrote Harriet, ' and we saw she was graceful, and 
playful, and kindly, and womanly.' 


At ten years of age James Martineau was sent 
as a day scholar to the Norwich Grammar School. 
Facing the western front of the cathedral, it was 
entered from the preciucts of the close, and day 
after day the lofty spire looked down upon the boys 
£is they assembled there ; but it did not become 

1 1 765-1836. He was not one of the descendants of Dr. John 
Taylor, but was connected with the family of Maurice. 

* A notebook shows him already busy with his grammar in 
his first college year. 

14 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [ch. i 

a companion to the lad whose imagination had not 
yet been awakened. To the Rev. Dr. Jessop in 
1888 Dr. Martineau recalled 'the old schoolroom 
in the Norwich close, where I consorted in the play- 
ground or competed in the class with Brooke and 
Stoddart, Borrow, Rigby, and Daliymple,i and 
learned to respect the scholarship of our master, 
Edward Valpy, and laugh at the vanity of our usher 
Banfather. As sole survivor of that group, I cannot 
but see its very sins dressed in a tender and softening 
light.' Borrow, Rigby, and Dalrymple, were his 
special companions ; but his friendship with the 
first-named had a dismal close. The story, as re- 
ported by Miss Cobbe in later years, has a touch 
of boyish melodrama. 

Borrow had persuaded several of his other companions to rob 
their fathers' tills, and then the party set forth to ioin some 
smugglers on the coast. By degrees the truants aU fell out of 
line and were picked up, tired and hungry, along the road, and 
brought back to Norwich school, where condign chastisement 
awaited them. George Borrow, it seems, received his large share 
horsed on James Martineau's back.^ 

The sensitive boy found the general scramble 
almost intolerable ; and though he retained grateful 
memories of his teachers (especially in geometry), 
he could never forget that he had ' suffered keenly 

iSir James Brooke, 1803-1868, Rajah of Sarawak: Charles 
Stoddart. 1806-1842, beheaded with ConoUy in Bokhara, June, 
1842 : George Borrow, :803-i88i, author of The Bible in Spain, 
Lavengro, etc. : Edward Rigby, 1804 -1860, great-grandson of 
Dr. John Taylor, afterwards a distinguished London surgeon : 
John Dalrymple, 1803-1852, son of an eminent Norwich surgeon, 
and himself afterwards famous as an ophthalmic surgeon. There 
were then about 240 boys. 

* Life of Frances Power Cobbe, vol. ii. 117. Borrow, when 
invited to dinner by Miss Cobbe, withdrew his acceptance on 
learning that his old schoolfellow was to be one of the party. 


under the smart of hopeless oppression and un- 
merited insult.'^ The instructor in drawing is said 
to have been ' Old Crome.' The artistic instinct 
of the boy was not, however, as yet articulate- 
He could remember the repute of Crome and Cotman, 
but only as contributing a sensible element to the 
local pride in his native city ' for which the in- 
habitants of the place were often ridiculed.'^ In 
truth, as wiU be seen hereafter, while he possessed 
in a remarkable degree the power of visualising 
old memories, and investing the most abstract 
thought with pictorial form, he was too deeply 
imbued with ethical principles to be in full sympathy 
with the temperament of the artist. 

The ' school years at Norwich were not happy, 
and the boy was for a time withdrawn, and placed 
under the care of Mr. Madge, who wisely turned his 
studies in fresh directions, and made him read 
poetry and romance. The tension of his hfe seems 
to have shown itself in a curious way in occasional 
sleep-walking, which brought him once as an in- 
voluntary intruder into the Sunday evening supper 
party, where Mr. Madge, Mr. J. Withers Dowson, 
and others, were frequent visitors after the services 
at the Octagon were over. 

About the age of thirteen or fourteen I was subject to som- 
nambulism ; and, one Sunday night, wound up my first sleep 
by marching down from the top room of the house in my night- 
gown straight into the supper-room, creating a confusion and 
stir which broke the spell and brought me to myself. The 
look of Mr. Madge's astonishment and of Withers Dowson's 
sweet compassion I can never forget. My mother led me out, 

^ These impressions are reflected in the essay on Dr. Amoldi 
Essays, i. 68. 

2 Letter to the Rev. E. I. Fripp, July 9, 1834. 

l6 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 fcH. i 

put my feet in hot water by the kitchen fire, and sent for Dr. 
Alderson, who got me into order after a day or two in bed. But 
the habit returned upon me at intervals, to the terror of some 
of my subsequent school-fellows at Dr. Carpenter's.*- 


Looking back over his boyhood from the vantage 
ground of middle hfe, the essayist, in pleading for 
a service of Christian consecration analogous to the 
Anglican rite of confirmation, once impersonally 
described the great transition of his youth.^ 

His guide through this passage, which he after- 
wards called his ' spiritual rebirth,'^ was Dr. Lant 
Ceirpenter, who had removed from Exeter to Bristol 
in 1817, and there established a small school in Jiis 
house in Great George Street. Bristol was also the 
home of some of Mrs. Martineau's kindred ; and in 
the school of her aunt, Mrs. Robert Rankin, Harriet 
first came under the influence of Dr. Carpenter 
at the Lewin's Mead Meeting, where he shared the 
pastorate with Mr. Rowe. Her enthusiasm for her 
new teacher led her father to place her brother 
James with Dr. Carpenter, when he was fourteen ; 
and the two years which he spent there (1819-21) 
supplied the great formative influence of his sub- 
sequent career. Dr. Carpenter was then in his 
fortieth yeai, full of eager activity in education 
as in philanthropy ; and the contact with him 

1 Letter to his cousin, Mrs. Wilde, Jan. i, 1885. A tradition 
was preserved at Great George Street (Bristol) that he weis found 
on one occasion holding one of his room-mates (Lord Suffolk) out 
of a third floor window I After that incident he slept in a 
room by himself. 

2 ' Dr. Arnold,* Essays, i. 66. 

3 Letter to Rev. E. M. Daplyn. 


was SO stimulating to the young Martineau that he 
afterwards wrote — ' So forcibly did that period act 
upon me, — so visibly did it determine the subsequent 
direction of my mind and lot, that it always stands 
before me as the commencement of my present 
life, making me feel like a man without a childhood.'^ 
Soon after his departure from home his mother 
writes that his father, needing relief from the 
anxieties of business, will shortly visit him and 
report the delightful family meeting of Martineaus 
and Taylors which he had missed by his absence ;^ 
while two or three weeks later his sister Rachel 
informs him that he is ' regarded at Bristol as back- 
ward in writing and arithmetic, and well up in Latin 
and Greek.' To himself he appeared in retrospect 
' a sallow stripling of fourteen, of shy and sensitive 
temperament, but superficially hardened by the 
rude discipline of a public school.'^ His comrades* 
foimd him ' serious and dihgent, and a little senti- 
mental, but he showed no particular sign of the 
power which developed itself a few years later." 
The school themes, however, now and then strike 
a personal note. When he writes on ' Fortitude,' 
the future Martineau speaks in the words — ' The 

^ To Rev. R. L. Carpenter, Memoir of Lant Carpenter, p. 342. 

* Sixty-five dined together on that occasion in the Hall Concert- 
room. The Rev. PhiUp Taylor came over from Dublin to be 
present. Mrs. Martineau expresse.s herself to James as ' deeply 
impressed by the fine character manilested all through so large 
an assembly.' 

* Life and Work of Mary Carpenter, p. 9. 

* These included Samuel Greg (elder brother of Wm. Rathbone 
Greg), James Heywood, Samuel Worsley, Lord Suffolk, and one, 
perhaps two, of his brothers, 

* Samuel Worsley to Rev. R. L. Carpenter, April 11, 1857. 

l8 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [CB. 1 

habit of bearing the httle disappointments and 
misfortunes of youth, and not allowing weakness 
of disposition to overcome us, is the foundation 
on which the rest must be built ' ; and on ' Liberty ' 
he contrasts the growth of popular Hberties in Europe 
with the slave trade of Africa, and concludes (at 
fifteen) with a plea for CathoUc emancipation. 

This interest in pubhc affairs was largely quickened 
by Dr. Carpenter's method of awakening the rever- 
ence of his pupils for great men among the Uving 
and the dead. 

Of those -who were my companions around the dinner-table, 
when he read the daily papers to us, and made the parliamentary 
debates the vehicle for his fine lessons of constitutional wisdom, 
some have been actively engaged in the struggles of public life,^ 
and aU have watched from no disadvantageous point the course 
of social change, and the conduct of party leaders : and I con- 
fidently appeal to them, whether they have not found their 
school-day politics, caught from your father's conversation, 
or vindicated in their own debating society, an admirable pre- 
paration for the graver controversies which engage the legislator 
or the citizen. ... I shall never forget how the Manchester 
massacre kindled his generous indignation ; drew forth his 
stores of constitutional history in eloquent defence of the popular 
right of petition ; and suggested to him great maxims of civil 
freedom. And the sentences of Grattan's final speech in behalf 
of the CathoUc claims still ring in my memory, as they flowed 
from your father's fervent lips, and thrilled into me my first 
and last true love of the principles of religious liberty. 

Such an outlook on great public questions sprang 
from a conscience trained to sleepless vigilance. 
The primary force of Dr. Carpenter's whole mind 
was its moral feeling : ' I have never seen in any 
human being the idea of duty, the feeling of right, 
held in such visible reverence.' To this influence 

1 The late Mr. Robert N. Philips, long member for Bury, once 
told the present writer that at the first Speaker's dinner which 
he attended after entering ParUament, the guests on either side 
of him bad been at Br. Carpenter's schooL 


James Martineau yielded himself a willing subject. 
He felt it exercised through the books chosen 
for classical reading, the moral treatises of Cicero, 
the Agricola of Tacitus, the selections from Juvenal, 
the dialogues of Plato. He felt it above all in the 
Greek Testament Class and in that of Moral Philo- 
sophy, where ' opportunities naturally arose for 
the opening of problems in the highest degree 
interesting to the affections and stimulating to the 
reflective faculties of young thinkers.'^ 

It was not only in the lessons of the class-room, 
however, that these deeps were sounded. He had 
been already instructed in the older literature of 
Presbyterian devotion, and when some of the 
writings of evangelical religion (which were much 
used by devout Unitarians) now fell in his way, 
the appeals and persuasions of WUberforce and 
Hannah More addressed themselves to a mind 
already prepared. He read them eagerly in his 
bedroom, not knowing that he thereby broke a 
household rule, and incurring the rebuke of his 
teacher for his ' sin of ignorance.'^ ' Practical Piety,' 
in particular, took a powerful hold on him, and 
brought to his mind a sense of sin which could not 
be accommodated to the metaphysic of Priestley,' 
but nevertheless sank deep and bore ample fruit 
in later years. The profound note of penitence in 
his maturest utterances was first sounded in this ■ 
boyish experience. Meantime he lived in the daily 

1 Biographical Memoranda. 

^ Speech to a deputation from Manchester College on occasion 
of his ninetieth birthday, April 23, 1895. 

^ See the following chapters. 

30 EARLV years, 1805-1822 fcH. I 

practice of strenuous duty, and the delight of newly 

awakened personal and religious affections.^ 

There can be no severer test (he afterwards wrote) of an in- 
structor's influence, than the degree of self-restraint which the 
mere thought of him may induce his pupils to exercise in his 
absence. To this test your father was more than once compelled 
to submit by attacks of serious illness, which confined him to 
his room ; and many of my former school-fellows will bear 
witness with me that when his desk was vacant, the schoolroom 
was no less silent and orderly, no less a scene of punctual and 
sustained industry, than if he had been present.* 

There were, in fact, no obscure reasons for this 

tranquillity. At the teacher's desk was James 

Martineau himself, and in the monitor's seat was 

Mary Carpenter, his junior by two years. ^ ' Mary 

has great influence among the boys,' reported her 

mother in the summer of 1820, ' and with her gentle 

voice, and mUd but firm expostulation, can maintain 

an astonishing degree of order among them.' The 

following scene in the Lewin's Mead Meeting-house, 

shows the same clear vision which marks other 

memories of the early days. 

1 One other influence may here be named, though it did not 
acquire its full power for many years later — the writings of 
Channing. ' I can never forget,' he wrote to Mr. Schermerhom, 
March 20, 1880, 'my first introduction to his name. I was 
a school-boy of sixteen, when, in 1821, my master, the late Dr. 
Lant Carpenter, received from Boston a copy of the Dudleian 
Lecture on Evidences of Christianity, and both read it to his 
pupils in private, and, after a preface of enthusiastic commenda- 
tion, preached it to his congregation on the following Sunday. 
It laid a powerful hold on me, and seemed to find something in 
me that had never been reached before. This was but the be- 
ginning x>f an experience which was repeated and enlarged, as, 
one after another, his great sermons and essays came over and 
burned their way into new seats of thought and affection.' The 
experience, however, was not realised or understood till much 
later. See infra, chap. V. § ii. . 

2 Memoir of Lant Carpenter, p. 343. 

* Letter of Dr. Martineau to J.E.C., Aug. 8, 1877. 

§y] school at BRISTOL 21 

Instead of having my place with the other pupils in the long 
line of the family pew, I usually sat with an aunt in a seat at 
right-angles to the other, and with a near front view of it. And 
as I now range in thought over its series of vanished forms, not one 
of them is clearer than that intent young daughter, lost to 
herself and all around, and surrendered to the sweet pieties 
that flowed upon that winning voice. And at the end of the day, 
when evening prayers and supper were over, and the juniors 
had gone to bed, and the rest of us lingered for a precious half- 
hour of serious talk, she was privileged to sit with her arm in 
her father's — sometimes as a silent listener, at others helping us 
to draw from him his thoughts on some problems that perplexed 
us ; or, in lighter moods, tempting him to tell the stories of his 
college daj's.i 

These hours of worship wrought an abiding 
work in the boy's heart, and prepared the way for 
the change which came upon him ere he had left 
school a year. In Dr. Carpenter's house he recog- 
nised a religion of absolute sincerity, no far-off 
dream, but positively busy with the concerns of 
every day. To this cause did he ascribe the fact 
that ' he never disgusted even the most careless 
with religion, — a pre-eminence in which, so far 
as I know, he stands almost solitary among teachers.' 

There was something in his voice, mellowed by the spirit 
within, that made the reaUty of God felt ; something that broke 
through the boundary between the seen and the unseen, and 
opened that ' secret place of the Almighty ' whence sanctity 
descends on all human obligations. I can never lose the un- 
speakable sacredness which he diffused over the Sunday ; and 
aSter all the changes of twenty years, its morning and evening 
come to me still in the same colours that awed and refreshed 
my boyish mind. And often, amid the labours of that day, 
or under that preparatory travail of the soul whose severity 
few suspect, and which it is fitting to bear in silence, have I 
remembered the peaceful Sabbath hours purchased by yout 
father's faithful service, and thought any toil repaid which 
can shed such consecration on the seventh part of human life.^ 

*Li/« and Work of Mavy Carpenter, p. 12. 
* Memoir of Lant Carpenter, p. 351. 

22 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [cH. i 


James Martineau left Bristol at midsummer, 1821. 
He had already decided upon a profession, and his 
work at school had been in part arranged as a direct 
preparation for the career of an engineer. In 
addition to the regular courses of instruction in 
science, including geology, natural philosophy,^ and 
chemistry, with illustrative specimens, diagrams, 
and experiments, he had been allowed to devote 
extra time to mathematics, and he carried with him 
a good knowledge of Euclid, the Conic Sections, 
Plane Trigonometry, and the elementary formulas 
of Spherical. It had been hoped that he might 
begin his career under the eye of kinsfolk in an 
engineering business, but they recommended an- 
other arrangement. The letters from January on- 
wards are concerned with these prospects : under 
the date of February 25 he noted afterwards, ' the 
account of them gives occasion to so much admirable 
advice and record of experience, that I keep the 
letter as equally characteristic of my mother's 
wisdom and high principle.' Finally an opening 
was found in the machine-works of Mr. Fox at Derby. 
Before settling there he went with his father and 
mother to Newcastle, to attend the christening of 
the first child of his eldest sister. The travellers 
went on into Cumberland, to visit an old friend 
of Mr. Thomas Martineau. In the garden of the 
house near Cockermouth, he saw the distant masses 
of the Lake hills, and there burst upon him ' the 
glorious surprise with which real mountains when 

^ This term lingered on for more tlian a generation afterwards. 

|vi] AT DERBY, 182I 23 

first seen fix the eye and fill the mind.'* Neither 
the tranquil charm of the Norfolk Broads, nor even 
the sea at Yarmouth or the other coast places to 
which the children were sometimes sent, seems to 
have awakened his delight like mountain beauty. 
For this he had hungered, not knowing the meaning 
of his longing ; for this, too, his readings in Words- 
worth had specially prepared him ; and to this he 
remained devoted even when he could climb no 

The return journey brought him to Derby, where 
his parents left him in the house of the Unitarian 
minister, the Rev. Edward Higginson.^ The ex- 
periment with Mr. Fox was not successful. The 
boy was only sixteen, but mind, conscience, soul, 
had been as it were reborn. His intellect was 
essentially constructive. He longed to work by 
principles ; his master thought it enough to put 
tools before him, and send him to the turning-lathe 
or the model room. He wanted scientific guidance ; 
he got the run of the shops. In the absence of 
adequate theoretic help, the taste for mechanics 
flagged, and the prospect of five years' service with 

1 ' John Kenrick,' Essays, i. 401. 

2 Concerning this gentleman he wrote in 1882 to Prof. F. 
W. Newman, apropos of Mozley's Reminiscences : ' Mozley's 
account of my father-in-law, Mr. Higginson, of Derby, is far from 
just ; though I can well believe, from the conspicuous chsiracter 
of such faults as he had, that the impression of htm in the minds 
of his orthodox neighbours is honestly reported. I myself greatly 
disliked the tone of the society in which he moved ; and it was 
in some measure a repulsion from it that drove me from Civil 
Engineering (which 1 -was learning at Derby) into the Ministry. . . 
Bat Mr. Higginson was neither a ' scoffer ' nor ' idle ' ; and 
Mozley's father would never have borne with patience the 
application of such terms to him.' 

24 EARLY YEARS, 1805-1822 [ch. i 

no more result than the masteiy of a very limited 
class of machines filled him with dismay. The 
slow process of discouragement was unexpectedly 
precipitated into a change of purpose. The rehgious 
impressions made upon him at Bristol deepened as 
he was withdrawn from their source. A sudden 
and sorrowful incident brought about the crisis. 
In the adjoining town of Nottingham there lived a 
cousin, married to the young and pure-souled 
minister of the High Pavement Chapel, Henry Turner, 
to whom he became deeply attached. In January, 
1822, Mr. Turner died. Beside his grave a new 
purpose sprang up in the heart of the young appren- 
tice.^ More than half a century later, as he took 
part in the meeting which . followed the opening of 
the High Pavement Church, April 28, 1876, he 
recalled that hour in moving words.'' 

Here in Nottingham it was that, under a sudden flash and 
stroke of sorrow, which few were able to remember, but of which 
many retained traces yet, the scales fell from his eyes, and the 
realities and solemnities of life first came upon him. Here it 
was that the religious part of his life first commenced ; in fact 
the light was so overpowering and so strong that it bore him from 
the workshop of his occupation, and turned him from an engineer 
into an evangelist. He well remembered, under the fervour of 
the first enthusiasm, how the voices that sounded in our various 
places of worship appeared to him to be beneath the exigences 
of the case — too sober and too cold ; and amid the broken Ught 
of an immature judgment he thought there ought to be some 
stronger and more spiritual ministry, that should less depend 
upon our self-help, but should take us off our feet, and fling us 
into a diviner life than that which prevailed among us. 

^ Relating the incident to Mr. Newman, he says : ' I frequently 
visited the house, before and became a house of mourning ; 
and the contrast of its spirit with what disappointed me at Derby, 
completed my conversion to a new mode of life.' 

* Reported in the Inquirer. 


The sequel was thus narrated by himself : ' At 
the end of a year I avowed my wish to change my 
profession.^ My father, while warning me that I 
was courting poverty, suppressed his disappoint- 
ment ; bore without reproach the forfeiture of the 
premium he had paid for me ; and engaged to bear 
the expense of my theological education at Man- 
chester College, York.' 

* Two months after Mr. Turner's death he had written to his 
old master, Dr. Carpenter, with a reference to some inward 
struggles. ' I feel grateful to you for having so kindly given 
me your advice. I have sometimes felt a wish to apply to you 
for assistance in some difficulties which I have sometimes pain- 
fully felt in the regulation of my religious feelings and the dis- 
charge of religious duties ; but I felt how much better it would 
be to surmount them unassisted, which I trust I have in some 
measure done.' The same letter dwelt on his intercourse with 
the young widow : ' she is indeed the most holy example of 
tranquil, pious resignation I ever expect to see." To Mrs. Henry 
Turner Dr. Martiueau remained closely attached for more than 
seventy years. — When Martineau was at Derby, there was a 
child of three in the same town, who, in his adult years, wa.s to 
abandon the engineering profession for philosophy, and break 
a lance on more than one occasion with his senior in the same 
field, Herbert Spencer. 


COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827. 

The change of purpose which carried James 
Martineau to Manchester College, York, in the 
autumn of 1822, had not met with universal approval 
among his friends. But it opened to him one precious 
sympathy which he ever afterwards held in grateful 
remembrance. He was only seventeen, ' a shy and 
awkward stripling,' as he described himself in 
retrospect, yet (as will be seen) full of quick sensi- 
bihty and hidden fire. Warnings and discourage- 
ments naturally drove him in upon himself ; but 
in his eldest brother Thomas, who had vowed 
himself to the family profession of medicine, he 
found imexpected support. The difference of age 
which had before been a barrier, no longer checked 
their intercourse ; the reserve of earlier days was 
melted ; ' his heart opened to me many a secret 
admiration and reverence as he read his favourite 
poets or discussed the graver problems of Ufe.'^ 
And behind this influence lay another more precious 
still. In the home of the Rev. Edward Higginson 
at Derby, where he had lived during his apprentice- 

1 Biographical Memoranda, quoted in the Life, i., 40. 


ship, were three daughters, in one of whom he had 
already found an ' elevation of mind and steady 
enthusiasm ' able to bring him ' calmness of soul 
and fixity of purpose.'^ Fortified by this affection, 
which was to be cherished through four silent 
years, he prepared to resiune the studies which 
his engineering plans had interrupted. 


Manchester College was the heir of an honourable 
academic tradition. The Act which imposed the 
obligations of conformity upon every minister, in 
1662, included the schoolmaster and the university 
teacher within its scope. Shut out at once from 
the national homes of knowledge, the Nonconformists 
were compelled to make their own provision for edu- 
cation, and especially for the training of a ' godly 
ministry ' ; and some ejected man of learning would 
open his house in the seclusion of the country, and 
give academic instruction to such as needed it. 
The first of these was established at Rathmell, near 
Settle, in Yorkshire, in 1670, by Richard Frankland, 
and before the end of the century sent forth more 
than three hundred students. One after another 
followed, till the fifth in the series, the Warrington 
Academy, where Dr. John Taylor, Priestley, Enfield 
and Gilbert Wakefield had taught, came to an end 
in 1785. Sixth in succession, Manchester College 
was founded in 1786 and solemnly dedicated by 
its Principal, the Rev, Thomas Barnes, D.D., ' to 

1 Letter to Mrs. Thomas Martineau. 

28 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

truth, to liberty, to religion.'^ Its scheme included 
* a full and systematic course of education for divines, 
and preparatory instructions for the other learned 
professions, as well as for civil and commercial 
life ' ; and these advantages were to be enjoyed 
' free from any subscriptions, tests, or obligations 
inconsistent with the sacred rights of truth and 
conscience.' In 1803 the College was removed to 
York, but its aims and methods remained unchanged. 
Fifty years afterwards the veteran teacher could 
recall his bitter sense of the privation which had 
kept him away from one of the Universities of his 
country.^ Yet this recollection was absorbed in 
the memory of the time when his mind had been 
roused to its richest activity, and the sense of 
responsibility awakened into an experience which 
if solemn was also joyous. He was already well 
prepared for the years which would exchange 
the instincts and vague aspirations of boyhood for 
deeper convictions and firmer principles. As he 
looked back from the distant heights of life to his 
College training, he still retained the freshest impres- 
sion of its meaning. The studies of his maturest 
age were founded on the class-work of half a century 
or more before. At York he had first explored 
wide fields of knowledge ; there, as he pored over 

1 Discourse at the commencement, Sept. 14, 1786. It was 
then called the Manchester Academy, but it was sometimes 
designated Manchester New College before the end of the century, 
in contrast with the Collegiate foundation connected with the 
noble old Church (now the Cathedral). 

* Speech at the presentation of his portrait to Manchester 
New College, June 24, 1874. Compare the speech at a College 
dinner, at the Freemasons' Hall, June 23, 1859. Inqutrer. 

§i] LIFE AT YORK 29 

ancient history and modem literature, new capacities 
of S5nnpathy had been awakened ; there intimacies 
with fellow-students were clothed with ideal light 
and glory ; and there the great masters of thought 
drew him into friendships which no griefs or dis- 
appointments of later years could shake or change. 
Well might he find compensations, after all, for his 
exclusion from ' the great ecclesiastical schools 
of divinity, where learning and piety are engaged 
to advocate foregone conclusions, and to plead 
the cause of the altar and the priest,' and, as he laid 
down the Principalship of the College, declare in 
emphatic words, ' I was myself its creation, moulded 
by it to the very marrow of me, formed by its clay, 
and shaped by its wheel.'^ 

The external arrangements were simple. Three 
houses stood in Monkgate, outside the ancient Bar, 
on the Scarborough Road, shut off from the thorough- 
fare by a wall, and forming within the enclosure a 
small quadrangle. In the centre lived the Rev. 
WiUiam Turner, M.A., tutor in Mathematics and 
Philosophy ; and the houses on either side were 
occupied by the students. A lecture-hall and class- 
rooms had been erected in the rear. At breakfast, 
dinner, and supper, the students gathered in Mr. 
Turner's dining-room ; tea was already the cherished 
opportunity for more intimate intercourse in their 
own rooms. Behind the College buUdings lay a 
piece of field for exercise and games, pole-leaping 
being much in vogue ; cricket was not played tiU 
1827, when Martineau was a member of the club.^ 

' Speech to Past and Present Students, June 24, 1885. 
^Life, i. 27. 

30 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. ii 

Most of all he loved his boat upon the Ouse, sent 
by his father all the way from Norwich. The 
level scenery around York, like his native Norfolk, 
lacked the mountains for which he always yearned, 
and the Minster with its noble organ made no 
special appeal to him. The Sundays were soon 
filled with Sunday School work, and missionary 
visits to the villages around. For those who were 
not thus engaged, there were the regular services 
in the venerable meeting-house at St. Saviourgate, 
where the Rev. Charles Wellbeloved, the Principal 
of the College, ministered.^ 

Mr. Wellbeloved had come to York as a young 
man of twenty-three, to assist the Rev. Newcome 
Cappe in his pastoral office. When the Manchester 
Academy became Manchester College, York, the 
larger part of the teaching fell on him, and only 
a persistent industry and devotion enabled him 
to grapple with his varied labours. To a singular 
gentleness, modesty, and benevolence, he joined 
a quiet force and an occasional incisiveness of utter- 
ance which gave him dignity and secured him 
respect. He had found time to take an active share 
in local institutions ; his was the voice that could 
often soothe the unhappy sufferers in the York 
Lunatic Asylum ; while in another field his exact 
lore as an antiquarian brought him the goodwill 
of those who were widely separated from him on 
grounds of religion. Among the ten neat quarto 
volumes of notes which Martineau carried away 
from York, not the least prized were those which 
contained his reports of the Principal's lectures 

» For sixty-six years. Cp. below, chap. VII. § L 


on the ' Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion,' 
' Theology,' and the Hebrew and Chaldee languages. 
The characteristics of the teacher the pupil thus 
summed up a generation later. 

Well do I remember the respectful wonder with which we saw, 
as our course advanced, vein after vein of various learning 
modestly opened out ; the pride with which we felt that we had 
a Lightfoot, a Jeremiah Jones, and an Eichhom all in one, yet 
no mere theologian after aU, but scarcely less a naturaUst and an 
archaeologist as well ; the impatience with which, out of very 
homage to his wisdom, we almost resented his impartial love of 
truth in giving us the most careful epitome of other opinions 
with scarce the suggestion of his own. Many of us have found 
the notes taken in his lecture-room our best cyclopaedia of divinity 
during the first years of our active ministry, when books were 
forced aside by other claims ; and when at last some leisure for 
independent study has been won, and the entrance of the theologic 
sciences upon new phases has taken us into untried fields, then 
most of all, if I may generalize my own experience, have we 
been thankful for our training under a master of the true Lardner 
type, candid and catholic, simple and thorough, humanly fond 
indeed of the counsels of peace, but piously serving every bidding 
of sacred truth. Whatever might become of the particular con- 
clusions which he favoured, he never justified a prejudice ; 
he never misdirected our admiration ; he never hurt an innocent 
feehng, or overbore a serious judgment ; and he set up within us 
a standard of Christian scholarship to which it must ever exalt 
us to aspire.i 

Some of his students found him too much addicted 
to the words ' probably ' and ' perhaps.' But he 
taught as weU assured the distinction of documents 
in the Pentateuch on which the modem view of 
Israel's history depends ; ^ he read the Messianic 
passages in the prophets by the aid of contemporary 
political events ; and he interpreted many of the 
predictions in the Gospels then supposed to relate 

I ' A Plea for Biblical Studies and something more,' Oct- 
1855 : Essays, i. 53. 

' Not, however, with the modem dates. 

32 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. ii 

to the last judgment, in the light of the great 
catastrophe to the Jewish state when Jerusalem 
fell. Among the writers whom he bade his hearers 
consult, the treatises of Anthony Collins on the 
'Scheme of Literal Prophecy,' ^ and of Jeremiah 
Jones * and Natheiniel Lardner * on the New Testa- 
ment, made the deepest impression on the young 
Martineau. ' To the study of their writings seventy 
years ago,' he told Mrs. Humphry Ward (June 7th, 
1892), ' I owe by far the greater part of my present 
modes of critical opinion ; all that has come since 
being but the natural development and application 
{mutatis mutandis, no doubt) of what I learned 
from them and their compeers.'* Mr. Wellbeloved, 
however, was much more than a guide to the 
knowledge of others. Whenever he quoted an 
opinion as * little known and less regarded,' he 
was followed with an eager attention, for by this 
formula he was understood to veil the utterance 
of his own convictions. 

>- Published in 1727, and directed against the view that Jesus 
was proved to be the Messiah on the ground of prophecy. 

' 1693-1724 : Independent minister, fellow-student of Seeker 
(afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury) at the academy of his 
uncle, Samuel Jones, at Gloucester. His work on the Canon 
was published in three vols., 1726-7, and was reprinted at the 
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1728 and 1827. 

» 1684-1786 : Independent minister : best known as the author 
of the Credibility of the Gospel History, which occupied nearly 
thirty years in publication, 1727-1755 : other works from the same 
learned pen followed. 

* Life, ii. 239. ColUns's work he had commended to the 
Rev. George Crabbe (July 26, 1848), as 'not exceeded, for acute- 
ness and good sense, by any of the more elaborate disquisitions 
of recent times,' mentioning for especial praise his proof of the 
late date of the book of Daniel. 


The classical reading, with the allied subjects of 
history and literature, was directed by the Rev. 
John Kenrick. His studies at Glasgow, Gottingen, 
and Berlin, had secured him an ample range of 
learning, which his fine sense of proportion always 
kept in due check in the teacher's chair. Half a 
century later, when Dr. Martineau had himself 
had a generation of experience of the same diffi- 
culties and privileges, he looked back with admira- 
tion to the mastery and completeness of his old 
instructor. With his own memories of German 
class-rooms as a standard, he could yet say that 
in Mr. Kenrick's treatment of every subject, there 
seemed to be one constant characteristic, — a com- 
prehensive grasp of its whole outline, with accurate 
scrutiny of its separate contents. ' Nothing frag- 
mentary, nothing discursive, nothing speculative, 
broke the proportions or disturbed the steady march 
of his prearranged advance.'^ In his lectures on 
Ancient and Modem History the eager young 
student found the guidance which he needed through 
the tangled path of centuries, — as the movements 
of nations and the influence of personalities stood 
out in clear outline ; while a fastidious restraint 
presided over his judgments in literature and art, 
though 'not a fountain of true genius was left un- 
visited.' In James Martineau Mr. Kenrick found a 
pupil ready to follow wherever he led ; he might 
have to rebuke him for ' intemperate study ' ; he 
never needed to spur him out of slackness or in- 
difference. After all, the most precious of a teacher's 
lessons is that of his own character ; and in describing 
^Essays, i. 408. 

34 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

John Kenrick Dr. Martineau also delineated him- 
self :— 

He was above ambition, incapable of pretence, eager to see 
things as they are, and assured that through the darkness that 
sometimes enfolds them, the only guide is the unswerving love 
of truth ; and, accepting life for service, not for sway, he never 
measured his sphere to see whether it was smaU or great, but 
deemed it enough to bear his witness where he stood, and help, 
as he might, the companions of his way.^ 

The head of the CoUege residence was the Rev. 
William Turner, who lectured on mathematics 
and physics, and then conducted his students 
through the science of mind to the principles of 
pohtical philosophy and social economy. Martineau's 
previous studies had carried him ahead of his College 
comrades in mathematics; its methods were not 
indeed altogether congenial to him, but for that 
reason he compelled himself to greater diligence, 
and under the ' admirable teaching ' of his tutor, 
succeeded in meistering Newton's Principia. He 
felt the value of the intellectual discipUne, and from 
time to time in later life resumed his reading to 
keep his mind open and his wiU alert. With the 
elements of psychology, metaphysics, and ethics he 
had already become famihar through the classes of 
his old schoolmaster. Dr. Lant Carpenter. Mr. 
Turner shared the same devotion to Priestley and 
Hartley, and limited his expositions to the great 
succession of the English and Scotch schools, from 
Locke to Reid and Dugald Stewart, from Butler to 
Bentham. Neither Coleridge nor Kant seems to 
have been named ; and the stormy voice of Carlyle 
had not yet found its most impassioned utterance. 

^Essays, i. 421. 


The note-books contain elaborate extracts from 
Briicker's History of Philosophy on the Greek Schools, 
but neither the classical nor the philosophical tutor 
lectured on any of the texts of Plato or Aristotle.^ 
Hartley's Rule of Life and Southwood Smith's 
Illustrations of the Divine Government were favourite 
manuals ; yet Mr. Turner acknowledged that he 
had not been able ' wholly to satisfy his mind ' 
on the subject of liberty and necessity.^ ' Though 
the direct argument for necessity appears unanswer- 
able, yet the views which are deduced from the 
doctrine even by necessarian writers are so startling, 
and it requires such an effort to accommodate our 
new views to the practice of life, and the use of 
necessarian language to common language, that 
there are still some difificulties left on my mind.'* 
Whatever misgivings Martineau may himself occa- 
sionally have felt, the sweep of a great conception 
had an intellectual fascination for him. It satisfied 
his desire for completeness. It harmonised with his 
previous scientific training ; and he readily inter- 
preted the human phenomena by the maxims and 
postulates he had already learned to apply in 
the field of external nature.^ He accepted Priestley 
as his master ; and in four ' orations ' on the 
' Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion,' com- 

1 The Apology and the Phado were read, but with these (as 
welt as some of the easier dialogues) Martineau was already 

2 This venerable controversy had become acute among Uni- 
tarians owing to the dominant influence of Priestley in contrast 
with Dr. Price. 

3 This was in the year 1825 ; Christian Reformer, 1854, p. 206. 
■* Compare his own retrospect in the preface to the Types of 

Ethical Theory. 

36 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 £ch. 11 

posed in the autumn of 1825, he thus expressed 
his indebtedness to the author of ' the celebrated 
Essay On the Analogy of the Divine Dispensations ' ; — 

So powerfully must the mind be struck on every review of that 
most interesting speculation, with its beautiful application of 
philosophy to religion, with its spirit of calm and rational piety, 
and with the inteUectual comprehension evinced in the ease and 
simplicity with which the sublimest truths are unfolded and 
illustrated, that it would be as impossible as it would be needless 
to forget the impression when endeavouring to gain enlightened 
views on the same subject. Sufficient is the privilege to catch 
one thought from such a mind ; sufficient is the praise to have 
reverenc^ such a teacher, to have followed such a guide. 


The companionship afforded by a small college, 
numbering only five-and-twenty or thirty students, 
was necessarily limited. It had one advantage, 
however, not usually present in a theological school ; 
there were men preparing for lay careers as well 
as for the ministry. Martineau's chief friends^ 
however, were found among the latter group. 
Some of them were destined in after years to win 
distinction in the circle of Churches which the 
College served, where the names of R. Brook 
Aspland,^ Samuel Bache,^ J. R. Beard,^ William 

1 Son of the Rev. Robert Aspland ; left Manchester College 
1826 ; afterwards minister at Chester, Dukinfield, and Hackney ; 
editor oiVbe Christian Reformer, 1845-1863 ; one of the Secretaries 
of Manchester College, 1846-185 7 ; Secretary to the British and 
Foreign Unitarian Association, 1859 till his death in 1869. 

* Student at Manchester College, 1826-29 ; afterwards minister 
of the New Meeting and the Church of the Messiah, Birmingham, 

* Student at Manchester College, 1820-25 : minister in Salford, 
at Strangeways, Manchester, and Sale ; first Principal of the 
Unitarian Home Missionary Board ; an ardent promoter of 
popular education, and an energetic theological writer. In 183S 
the University of Giessen bestowed on him the honorary degree 
of D.D. for Ills services to religious and general literature. 


Gaskell,^ Edward Higginson,^ and Edward Tagart,' 
will always be held in honoured remembrance.* As 
Dr. Martineau looked back from the vantage ground 
of four-score years, three figures stood out before him, 
bound to him in common vows of duty and devotion,^ 
Franklin Howorth, John Hugh Worthington, and 
Francis Darbishire. For the first, who belonged 
to his own year, he felt to the end ' a deep and 

1 student at Manchester College, 1825-28 ; Minister at Cross 
St. Chapel, Manchester, 1828-1884; one of the Secretaries of 
Manchester New College, 1840-46, and professor of English 
history and literature, 1846-53 ; afterwards Tutor and Principal 
of the Unitarian Home Missionary Board. 

* Student at Manchester College, 1823-28 ; afterwards minister 
at Hull, Wakefield, and Swansea ; an active writer, his best 
known works being The Spirit of the Bible, 1853-5, 2 vols., and 
Ecce Messias, 1871. 

* Student at Manchester College, 1820-25 .' afterwards minister 
at Norwich, and York St., and Little Portland St. Chapels, 
London ; Secretary to the British and Foreign Unitarian Asso- 
ciation, 1842-58 ; author of a treatise on Locke's Writings and 
Philosophy, 1855. 

* One more name may here be added, that of William Shiell 
Brown, afterwards minister at Hull and Bridgwater, and sub- 
sequently first minister of the Unitarian Church at Buffalo, U.S. 
In a letter dated Jan. 14, 1865, to the Rev. Dr. Hosmer, Mr. 
Martineau gave a remarkable sketch of his early friend, which 
contained one or two interesting autobiographical touches. 
• Brown was so much older, that for a session or two it never 
occurred to me to regard myself as on the level of his friendship. 
He was among the men — and I almost among the boys of the 
College. Af&nities of temperament, however, work their way 
through wider distances than this, and Brown, who, though 
rather a dreamer, was a quick observer, too, found out that 
some of his enthusiasms were strongly reflected in me. I well 
remember my surprise at his evident advances towards one 
much his junior, and as Uttle his match in the knowledge he most 
prized, of English literature. However we both of us reverenced 
Wordsworth in poetry, Berkeley in philosophy, Channing — then 
a new power among us^ — in reUgion ; so that there was a common 
atmosphere enough, at a time when the wings were growing, 
for many a flight together." Inquirer, June 2, 1866. 

5 Speech to Past and Present Students, June 24, 1885. 

38 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [cH. 11 

reverential affection,' called forth by a singularly 
pure and elevated character ; but though they had 
sat at the same desk, and given answers in the same 
class, Howorth's interests were never intellectual.^ 
Neither of the other two lived on into maturer 
age. Worthington, who became engaged to Miss 
Harriet Martineau, died in 1827 ; and Darbishire 
also, who changed his career after leaving Collie, 
fell a victim to disease which made its first appear- 
ance at York and evoked his friend's tenderest plans 
for help. They shared advanced mathematical 
lessons from Mr. Turner, and a devoted and en- 
thusiastic friendship arose between them. In the 
midst of these somewhat exclusive intimacies, 
life in the Uttle College was not always smooth. 
There were occasional ' alienations and remon- 
strances,' sometimes even ' tragic scenes ' ;^ there 
were practical jokes, harmless enough to point a 
mirthful recollection in later days, though not 
always of a kind to exempt the perpetrators 
from rebuke.^ Beard was regarded as the idol of 
of the ' sinners,' while Martineau was counted chief 
of the ' saints.' * Saints and sinners united in 

1 Speech at the Liverpool Domestic Mission, 1857. 

2 Dr. Martineau to Mr. Thomas Homblower Gill, Aug. 28, 1882 j 
Life, vol. i. 33. 

3 In one of these Martineau himself participated. A fellow- 
student, who afterwards became a large landowner in Hungary, 
related a generation later that it was once resolved to terrify 
a timid recluse. Martineau was carried into his room on the 
shoulders of a comrade, robed in white ; a large piece of red 
beef-steak had been tied round his neck, and his mass of black 
hair was crowned by a bowl of blazing spirit. 

* Christian Life, Sept. 2, 1876. 


debate, in glee-singing, in Shakespeare readings, '^ 
and the production of the College ' Poz.'* 

Most significant, however, of these common efforts 
was the Unitarian zeal which carried the students 
into the puriieus of the ancient city, and further 
afield into the villages around. The energy and 
enthusiasm which afterwards marked Dr. J. R. Beard, 
may doubtless be traced in this movement, and 
Martineau willingly followed. In 1823 a sort of 
missionary society was formed within the College. 
Aided by a venerated friend on the spot, John Mason, 
the young preachers taught a Sunday School in a 
little chapel at Jubbergate in York,^ and planted 
small centres of worship in places like Malton, Selby, 
Bilton near Wetherby, Welbum, and other villages.* 
Mr. Wellbeloved, whose controversy with Arch- 
deacon Wrangham probably supplied an indirect 
stimulus to these endeavours, was not altogether 

^ At this Club the members also contributed original essays. 
In his last year on April 27, 1827, Martineau ' gratified the 
members with the first part of an essay comparing the Practice 
of Shakespeare with the Rules of Aristotle.' The completion 
was promised for the next meeting. But the minute-book records 
no more gratification. The essayist ' pleaded headache in excuse.' 

^ The Repository, a College Magazine. 

' Originally opened in 1 796, by a group of seceders from a 
chapel in Lady Huntingdon's connexion. 

* It was estimated that about sixty worshippers used to 
assemble in each place. Report of the West Riding Tract Society, 
MiU Hill, Leeds, May I2, 1824, kindly communicated by Rev. 
A. Chalmers. The minute boolc of the College Society mentions 
that the Selby preacher at first ministered at Howden in the 
afternoon, but the gradual decline of attendance at the after- 
noon service and the discovery that most of the hearers ' were 
in reality Deists — and characters with whom it was disgraceful 
to be connected ' led to the discontinuance of the movement 
there. The same page declares the Society to be ' under the 
influence of the Catholic spirit of the Gospel.' 

40 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. u 

favourable to them ; he did not approve of ' mush- 
room preachers ' ; and at a later period rebuked a 
too zealous distributor of Unitarizm tracts with 
the remark that, while still at college, he was not 
qualified to form a decided opinon. The impulses 
of the ardent, however, prevailed. It was resolved 
to build a little chapel at Welbum, near Castle 
Howard. Martineau, who helped to collect the 
necessary funds, was supposed, in virtue of his 
year's engineering, to have a general power of con- 
struction. So he was invited, though a junior, 
to draw the plans, and with characteristic courage 
allowed himself at nineteen to be installed as archi- 
tect and clerk of the works. The building was 
opened in the summer of 1825 ; the crowd of wor- 
shippers overflowed into a neighbouring field, where 
J. R. Beard preached to them with the simplicity 
of a young apostle.^ How Dr. Martineau judged 
these efforts in the light of later experience, the 
following letter to Mr. G. B. Dalby after his ninetieth 
birthday will suffice to show : — 

London, May 21, 1895. 

In recalling the services of the Jubbergate Chapel in 1825-27, 
you touch some very interesting memories, and place before me 
again the images of many a beloved companion or revered fore- 
runner, like the good John Mason, who had an influence never 
to be forgotten on the early experiences of religious life. So 
deep was the impression of what I owed to these early exercises 
of pulpit-duty, — ^which were rather reluctantly permitted by 
our College Tutors, — that throughout my responsible connexion 
with [the] College after its removal, I have always encouraged the 
Senior Students to lay themselves out for Sunday duty either in 
occasional preaching, or in regular Sunday School teaching. 
Learning itself seems to me to lose half its zest, and almost ^ 
its soul, if made a sole pursuit, and prosecuted by a mind cut o£E 

^Monthly Repository, 1825, p. 166. 


from the conflicting forces of life, unexercised in conscience, 
and dry in afiection. I am sure that the most effective study 
goes on concurrently with the intensest practical work, and that 
the persons from whom both are denianded, do best in each.^ 


The progress of the young student, to whom 
some honour fell from year to year among the modest 
distinctions of the College, afforded delight and 
satisfaction to his parents, and at last secured the 
approval of friends who had viewed his change of 
destination as a misfortune. The home relations 
during these years were always eagerly cherished, 
and involved an imusual series of heart-searching 
vicissitudes. Now the report of family gatherings 
on Christmas and New Year's days cheers the absent 
son and brother in the north ; he hears of the budgets 
of poems and other papers, and is duly informed 
that Harriet ' sang a humorous song.' Then comes 
a Festival, bringing a burst of happy intercourse 
with distant kindred gathered for the occasion, 
and musical parties at the cousins' houses, Sir 
George Smart assisting. Or the note changes, and 
anxiety for the student's health fills the mother's 
heart. The story lingered into later days that 
Martineau had worked twenty-five hours out of 
the twenty-four,^ Certain it is that his college 

1 Compare the College Address, 1856, ' The Christian Student, 
Essays, iv. 43. — To the enthusiasm of this period was due the 
foundation of the Octagon Sunday School at Norwich, in a 
College vacation, with the help of * a few friends of about his own 
age.' Speech at the induction of the Rev. J. D. H. Smyth, 
Norwich, Inquirer, Nov. 8, 1862. (The date, 1822, must be at 
least a year too early.) 

'Life of Catherine Winhworth (privately printed). 

42 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

toils were often interrupted by illness ; and at one 
time a year at Gottingen was proposed by way of 
change. But then the home was overshadowed 
by another care. The health of Thomas Martineau, 
the young surgeon, suddenly failed. He went with 
his bride and Harriet to Torquay, but the disease 
was stubborn and would not jdeld. At length it 
was resolved that the invalid should go to Madeira. 
The family held their last unbroken meeting one 
Sunday evening for worship at his Norwich home ; 
the veil of shyness and reserve was withdrawn, 
and ' brother James,' then only eighteen, poured 
forth his soul in deep words of prayer. Sorrow was 
added to sorrow ; the child who should have con- 
tinued the family name, was buried in the far-off 
isle ; and Thomas Martineau himself died on the 
return voyage to Marseilles late in the summer of 
1824. To the young widow James Martineau became 
tenderly attached, and he opened his heart to her 
with unhesitating confidence. 

While Thomas was still abroad, the wise and 
watchful father proposed a Scotch walking-tour to 
James and Harriet. Brother and sister had been 
united in special friendship from their earliest years. 
They had read and argued together, of late about 
the freedom of the will, and each departure of the 
student from home left the partner of his thoughts 
plunged in grief. In 1823, when he went back to 
College, ' he told me,' wrote Harriet long afterwards,^ 
' that I must not permit myself to be so miserable. 
He advised me to take refuge on each occasion in a 
new pursuit ; and on that partictilar occasion in 
^Autobiography, i. 117. 

§iii] SCOTCH TOUR, 1824 43 

an attempt at authorship. I said, as usual, that I 
would if he would : to which he answered that it 
would never do for him, a young student, to rush 
into print before the eyes of his tutors ; but he 
desired me to write something that was in my 
head, and try my chance with it in the Monthly 

Repository What James desired, I always 

did, as of course ; and after he had left me to my 
widowhood, soon after six o'clock, one bright Sep- 
tember morning, I was at my desk before seven, 
beginning a letter to the Editor.'^ So the pair 
started for London in July, 1824 ; there the divinity 
student heard Edward Irving pray and preach, 
attended Mr. Fox's chapel, breakfasted with Mr. 
Rutt, called on Mr. Belsham, and made his way 
out to Newington Green, where he met Sir James 
Mackintosh and the poet Samuel Rogers in Mrs. 
Barbauld's drawing-room. Lord Byron had sent 
her some Greek newspapers, and he translated a 
few sentences for his venerable friend. Just before 
the packet sailed for Edinburgh, July 27, he found 
time to write to his fellow student, Edward Higginson, 
reporting sums collected for the Welbum chapel, 
and announcing the despatch of plans and working 
drawings to the contractor. 

The journey was memorable, for to both ' it was a 
first free admission into the penetralia of natural 
beauty.' This was the aspect of Scotland which 
appealed to him then, rather than its associations 
of history and poetry, — it was Wordsworth, not 
Scott, who had kindled his imagination, — and this 
was the secret of its charm for him to his latest days. 
1 The sequel may be read in the Autobiography. 

44 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [="• " 

From Perth the pedestrians ranged as far north 
as the Bruar Falls, and westward to Loch Awe. 
They felt as if they were entering a sanctuary. ' We 
walked ever3rwhere with hushed feeling and reverent 
feet. We were perfectly at one both in the defects 
which limited our vision, and in the susceptibiUties 
which quickened it, neither of us caring much for 
the savage romance of Scottish traditions, and both 
being intensely aUve to the appeal of mountain 
forms and channeled glens, and the play of light and 
cloud with the forest, the corrie, and the lakeside.'^ 
The eager talk * ran over all surfaces,' and ' plunged 
into all depths,' metaphysics having already a 
large share. 

1 was at that time, and for several years after, an enthusiastic 
disciple of the determinist philosophy ; and was strongly tainted* 
with the positive temper which is its frequent concomitant ; 
yet not without such inward reserves and misgivings as to render 
welcome my sister's more firm and ready verdict. While she 
remained faithful through life to that early mode of thought, 
with me those ' reserves and misgivings,' suppressed for a while, 
recovered from the shock and gained the ascendancy.^ 

In due time he went back to York, confirmed in 
the faith, to compose a series of three orations on 
' Divine Influence on the Human Mind,' in which 
the constructive character of his thought was to take 
a great stride forward, declare the universal agency 
of the Creator, and assert that all human powers 
of thought, wiU, and affection, must be reinterpreted 
as the energy of the ever-present God. 

Behind the home-circle, however, there now lay 

^ Biographical Memoranda, Life, i. 39. 

2 Biographical Memoranda, Life. ii. 262. For the ' reserves 
and misgivings ' of his tutor, Mr. Turner, see ante, p. 35 His 
own change of view is described below, in chaps. VI. and IX. 


in his mind visions of the future that touched even 
College intimacies with a more radiant glow. 
With Francis Darbishire, a year or two younger 
than himself, he was knit in ' devoted and 
enthusiastic friendship.' They were ' like two 
lovers,' he wrote in 1882, ' and had not a thought 
kept from one another.' To him was confided 
the secret of the attachment to the Derby home ; 
during the years of suspended intercourse he was 
the sympathetic medium of communication ; and 
he was involved in the ' whole group of romantic 
loves and friendships ' centered there. Darbishire 
himself looked on this experience as a kind of 
* regeneration,' lifting him into a world of intenser 
affection no longer passionate but under calm and 
dear command. Martineau, on his side, described 
him to Alfred Higginson, then engaged in preparing 
for the medical profession, as his ' supporter and 
delight.' ' I should not be content,' he added, 
' did you not know and appreciate him sufficiently 
to justify my growing affection for him. But I 
dare not speak of him now ; he is near me, and has 
just been talking to me ; and if he becomes my 
theme just now, I fear I shall say many things 
which will be too fervent to be intelligible.' To 
Mrs. Thomas Martineau James wrote of his friend's 
' self-control and firmness,' while he deplored his 
own ' wa5^ward and irresolute spirit * : ' I know that 
the character which I have given of Francis and 
myself would be transposed by many, particularly 
of my former College friends ; but I am absolutely 
sure that they are mistaken ; every day's experience 
shows me that I am but too right.' So slow and 

46 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

halting are the steps of self-discipline and know- 
ledge. Here are one or two glimpses of his spirit 
vouchsafed to the same sister-in-law, as he looks 
forward to the future alike of work or home. 

York, May 11, i8ss. 
It is the great danger of young ministers, they must have 
their admirers, and if once they think of their powers whether 
mental or moral as their omn, if they make them the source of a 
deceitful self-complacency, instead of being grateful for them 
as the instruments of benevolent usefulness, as the means of 
executing the divine plans, our holy profession is degraded, 
it loses in our minds its alliance with Heaven, it is made to minister 
to an earth-bom passion which pollutes every spring of thought 
and action. My sister, may God keep me from frustrating the 
best wish, the fondest anticipations of my soul, from tainting 
the pure and exalted conceptions which I have of the ministry 
by any intermixture of motives and feelings so very base. I 
tremble to think of what I would be, and what you with others 
would wish me to be, compared with what I am. But I will 
not trouble yon with- my fears and hopes. 

As he is approaching his twenty-first birthday, 

which is to terminate his exile from Derby, he 

writes again : — 

York, March 7, 1826. 

The time is very near when the long deep silence will be broken, 
and the thoughts which have been accumulating shall be inter- 
changed. New motives are about to be presented to me, and 
brighter feelings with which to surround my hopes for earth and 
heaven ; if my affections do not become expanded and spiritual- 
ised, no earthly discipline can exalt and purify my soul 

I am engaged every Sunday for many weeks in consequence 
of the delivery of a course of doctrinal lectures at our three 
missionary stations : the preparation for this laborious task 
claims almost all my spare time. I am obliged to ioin in this 
on account of the paucity of our missionaries : and it does not 
always make me ill on Monday. I am in particularly good health 
just now, and well I may be, with seven hours' sleep and one 
hour's walk every day. Francis and I read to each other in the 
open air at great distances from each other, two days in every 
week ; ^ and this, together with half an hour's reading daily 
by myself in my own room, has a wonderful efiEect in strengthen- 
ing my voice. 

1 He at one time cherished the idea also of open air study ; 
it was ' an early romantic hope,' Life, ii. 84. 


The same letter told of more home anxieties. 
The news from Norwich had for some time filled him 
with ' painful sympathy and sad thoughts and 
fearful expectation.' Severe commercial distress 
had rendered it necessary to organise an extensive 
system of pubhc relief and employment outside the 
poor-law administration.^ Business was at a stand- 
stiU. The Spanish trade in which Mr. Martineau 
had been engaged, had declined under new arrange- 
ments with France. He laid his affairs before his 
creditors ; the liabilities of the house amounted 
to about £100,000. Fifteen shillings in the pound 
could have been paid at once ; but he was confident 
of his abOity to pay all, and struggled on, while 
the various members of the family began to think 
how to turn their capabilities and industry to good 
account, as Harriet had already done. In the midst 
of these apprehensions, the long strain of affairs 
wrought its deadly work upon the head of the 
household. To anticipate, by a little, the comrse 
of the family history, it may be here related that 
early in 1826 Mr. Martineau fell ill. James had not 
5delded himself for many weeks to the joy of un- 
restricted intercourse with his betrothed, when he 
was summoned from York to his father's deathbed. 
To his friend Edward Higginson he wrote on June 10, 
' He requires either Henry or me always with him 
for help which only a man's strength can supply, 
and Henry is for the most part needed elsewhere.' 
It was a sorrowful and agitating time. On Mid- 
summer day Thomas Martineau died. The sequel 

* The large sum of ;£4,ooo was raised to provide cheap food, 
the purchasers contributing two-pence out of every sixpence. 

48 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. « 

is soon told. The mother whose fortune was 
swallowed up in the calamities which had befallen 
the business, prepared with her eldest surviving 
son to wind up its affairs. Three years later the 
old Norwich house was closed, and finally all debts 
were completely paid. ' My father,* wrote his 
daughter Harriet, emphatically, ' did not fail.' 
These memories doubtless lay behind the speaker's 
words, when, thirty years later, James Martineau 
preached a famous sermon, ' Owe no man anj^hing.'^ 


Meanwhile the fabric of his future thought was 
being prepared. He had already ranged among the 
poets, and was most at home with Milton and 
Wordsworth ; ethical S5nnpathies chiefly determined 
his affinities, though the force of Byron and the 
lyric spontaneity of Shelley had made a strong appeal 
to him. Through William Taylor* he had become 
acquainted with Lessing's ' Nathan the Wise ' ; 
and he could never forget ' the wonder and deUght, 
the awful sense of intellectual space,' opened to 
him by the essay on the ' Education of Human Kind.'* 
' No one,' he wrote in his maturity,* 'could fall upon 
it in the eager season of inquiry and conviction, 
without being haunted for years by the shadows of 

1 Liverpool, Nov. 30, 1856 ; Essays, i. 497. 

'Ante, chap. I. p. 13. 

3 A translation had appeared in the Monthly Repository as 
early as 1806, with the initials of H. Crabb Robinson. To this 
he expressed his obligation in a speech in 1872 : ' he did not 
hesitate to say that the whole course of his life had been influenced 
by that work.' Inquirer, May 25, 1872. 

■*In 1854; Essays, i. 191. 


great thought it flings around him.' Under these 
masters it is not surprising that his power of expres- 
sion advanced by amazing strides. Compared with 
the Bristol themes, his College compositions show a 
swift development. In November, 1823, he dis- 
courses of ' Why we derive pleasure from contem- 
plating ruins ' ; here are already distinction of 
language, habits of analysis, imaginative glow. 
Quaint is the defence of Friendship as ' Consistent 
with Scriptural Views of Social Duty,' designed to 
show that the command to love our neighbour as 
ourselves ' does not exclude more particular regards.'^ 
Or he adventures into other fields, undertakes to 
explain the origin and growth of benevolence, , 
boldly asserts that ' the science of mind is peculiarly | 
the philosophy of Christianity,' and, following his ; 
favourite masters, Hartley and Priestley, holds up', 
the Law of Association as ' the instrument for | 
constructing from the gross and corrupt materials 
of sense that fair and beautiful fabric of the spirit, 
which, unimpaired, adorned, and strengthened by 
the hand of time, shall stand an eternal monument 
to the wisdom and benignity of its Author.' 

One group of Essays written in the autumn of 
1824 supplies interesting evidence of the freshness 
of his thought. He sets out to answer the question 
' To what Conclusions do Philosophical Considera- 
tions lead respecting Divine Influence on the Human 
Mind ? ' This really involves an enquiry into the 
whole nature of the activity of God. Genereil laws, 

^ This was converted into a sermon, and preached at Diss, 
in Norfolk on July 11, 1824, — his first appearance, presumably 
in the pulpit. 

50 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [cH. 11 

it is urged, can account for nothing ; they are only 
statements of facts. If the first movement in crea- 
tion required an intelligent cause, so does every 
effect now perceived. Philosophy can only detect 
invariable sequence ; but something more enters 
into our idea of causation. Vitis it is the function 
of religion to disclose, and it declares in no uncertain 
tones that ' nothing is without God.' 

The fields of earth, the boundless recesses of heaven, are the 
scenes of his ceaseless energy. He is felt in every breeze which 
blows ; he is seen in every form of beauty and sublimity. It 
is he -who alternately unveils the world in the brightness of the 
morning hour, and conceals it from the view that the eye of 
man may be rsiised to other scenes, and his heart impressed by 
the silence, the darkness, the magnificence of night. It is he 
who, cis if to allure our attention to his operations by the novelty 
of perpetual revolution, mysteriously unfolds the elements of 
vegetation, and reveals from the bare and desert earth the verdure 
of spring, the hues of summer, and the fruits of autumn. It 
is he who with unchanging regularity bears the planets on their 
mighty course, who guides within the sphere of mortal vision 
the light of more distant worlds, and who works, in regions too 
remote for human knowledge to explore, wonders which the eye 
may behold, but the mind cannot comprehend. 

By rapid steps the conclusion is reached that 
' the powers, not only of sensation, but of thought, 
volition, and affection, must be resolved into the 
operations of the same Great Being.' 

Let anyone endeavour to recount the thoughts which have 
passed through his mind during a single day. How great their 
number I How diversified their complexion and their tendency ! 
Upon what a vast variety of previous impressions, of associations 
early established and perpetually maturing does every one of 
them depend I And aU these have been but the movements of 
God's spirit, and his is the power which blends thought with 

thought in such beautiful and complicated trains Could 

we at this or any moment in the history of human nature con- 
template the separate lot of all our race, and watch the secret 
workings of their hearts, we should find all these and countless 
other varieties of thought and feeling by which each is led to 
fulfil the purposes of his being. How wonderful then is the 


agency of him without whom not a thought nor an emotion 
can arise. Truly ' nothing is without him ' : the annals of nature 
and of time are but the wondrous history of his agency : should 
he for one moment suspend it. the next would find every trace 
of created existence perished, and the Creator reigning alone 
in unshared felicity. 

At the outset of the second Essay the philosopher 
of nineteen is surprised to find himself assailed 
with inconsistent charges of pantheism and atheism ; 
and modestly confesses that he had written in 
ignorance that there was a controversy on the 
question of power. He seeks the origin of our 
idea of causation, and finds it in experience, com- 
mencing from our first voluntary act ; and the 
conclusion is once more affinned that ' all uniformity 
in nature is the immediate result of the harmonising 
agency of God.' But the third essay brings him 
into conflict with the doctrine of the effects of 
prayer : and he rises finally on metaphysic wing 
into the vision of the Eternal. 

All that our argument requires is that nothing subordinate 
to God should be erected into an independent agent, that his will 
be reverenced as the only sanctuary of power ; and whether 
we consider him as directing the stream of time, appointing its 
devious course, and preparing the receptacle of its destination, 
before its first fountain has sprung to light, or as rolling it onwards 
as its current proceeds, it is still the same. Indeed the distinction 
between these two modes of agency is merely apparent, and 
relative to our limited conceptions. In proportion as our views 
extend, and we gather our ideas from a wider range of duration 
both past and future, the distinctions of time become less percep - 
tible, and retrospection and expectation melt into one present 
emotion. With God, therefore, whose knowledge and whose 
thought includes the whole compass of time, all ideas must 
coalesce, the most distant events are contemporaneous, the 
remotest purposes coexist. The difference therefore between 
an all-embracing will at the moment of creation, and a succession 
of separate voUtions for the production of every effect, is not real, 
but amounts to no more than a variation in the manner of 
conceiving of the same operation of the Divine Intelligence. 

Still therefore does philosophy combine with Revelation to 

52 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. n 

teach respecting God that he is the cause, the means, the end ; 
that ' of him, and through him. and to him are all things ' ; 
that ' nothing is without him ' ; that ' he worketh in us both 
to will and to do.'* 

There are no ' reserves and misgivings ' here. To 

this period Dr. Martineau turned in later retrospect : 

In youth, if ever we receive a ' serious call' it is the most 
elementary religious truths by which the mind becomes entranced. 
Who can ever forget the intense and lofty years when first the 
real communion of the Uving God — the same God that received 
the cries of Gethsemane and Calvary — and the sanctity of the 
inward Law, and the sublime contents of life on both sides of 
death, broke in a flood of glory upon his mind, and spread the 
world before him, stripped of its surface-illusions and with its 
diviner essence cleared ? 2 

1 These passages have been cited at length to dispel all doubt 
as to the philosophical position from which Dr. Martineau started. 
In his interesting Recollections of James Martineau, the Rev. 
A. H. Crawford asserts that his teacher, ' owing to his lingering 
Deism, sometimes failed to appreciate the fuU extent of God's 
habitual immanence in the creation.' The repeated allusions to 
' the depressing influence of his old indwelling Deism,' ' the 
old poison of Deism,' ' the fetters of his old Deism,' are based 
on some imaginary scheme of his development, and are without 
foundation in the actual history of his thought. Dr. Martineau 
never was a Deist. The general argument of the three essays 
(apart from the discussion ol eternity in the last), and the texts 
cited at the close, will be found in a sermon of Dr. Lant Car- 
penter's on Divine Agency and Conversion, with an appendix of 
' propositions respecting Divine Agency,' published in 1822. 
The sermon was actually preached in 18 18 ; and with the views 
which it embodied Martineau doubtless became acquainted 
between 1819 and 1821. In an earlier sermon (1810) Dr. Carpenter 
rejects the doctrine that ' when God first created all things, 
He communicated to them all those properties, and fixed those 
laws, which would enable them through every succeeding period 
to contribute their part to the accomplishment of those purposes ' 
(philosophical Deism) : on the other hand, all power is the agency 
of God, and the laws of nature are the modes of its operation : 
Sermons, p. 451. On the writings of Hartley, the fountain head 
of these views, see chaps. IV. < iv. 

^ Loss and Gain in Recent Theology, 1881 ; Essays, iv. 330. 
This is the other side of the picture of the positive temper to 
which he confesses in his Preface to the Types of Ethical Theory : 
but the phrase ' the sanctity of the Inward Law ' really belongs 
to a later mode of thought. 


It was doubtless with a just recollection of the 
steadying moral effect of such a conception on a 
nature already susceptible to every appeal of good, 
that Dr. Martineau thus described in his Study of 
Religion the result of the idea of God's omnipresence : 

Were the experiences of early life laid open, during its years 
of growing fervour and self-discipline, it would probably be found 
that both in the orisons of the closet and in the encounter with 
temptation, the attempt to reaUse this thought played a great 
part and wielded the chief power. The consciousness of his 
spirit whether at noon or night, abiding through every change, 
calm aUke on the restless sea or on the steadfast mountain, with 
centre here or on the horizon or behind the moon or in the milky 
way, and radius touching every point of life or thought, holds 
the mind in sleepless wonder, and renders the risings of passion 

Under these influences the young student's power 
was rapidly maturing. In the spring of 1826 his 
mother reports to her ' dear bairns ' that his old 
schoolmaster, Dr. Carpenter, ' had heard of James's 
performance at Manchester,'* and invites him to 
preach at Bristol in the next vacation. The prospect 
was cheering to the father who was face to face 
with death. 'Whether James accepts this proposal 
or not, it is gratifying that our dear lad is becoming 
known and approved, and our hearts are full of joy 
because we think he will be estimated as he deserves. 
As to his pulpit powers, I never was more surprised 
than to find they are so good, and if he is able now 

* study of Religion (1888), ii. 171. The whole passage with 
its description of the fuller religious consciousness of Pantheism 
deserves careful study. For a definition of the Deism which 
he never held, see the same volume, p. 143. 

* At the great Cross St. Chapel. 

54 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

in his delicate state to preach with spirit and energy 
in such a place as Cross St., when his health is better 
we may hope that he will be still more powerful 
in the pulpit.' The preacher's work was not, indeed, 
always performed under favourable conditions. He 
is at Derby on Saturday morning in September 
(1826) with a Sunday engagement at Manchester, 
and a place booked and paid for on the Defiance 
coach. But the coach comes in full, and the pro- 
prietor sends him round by Birmingham ; and he 
only reaches Manchester at seven the following 
morning. Next day, after his Sunday services 
and a second night journey, he is in his place at 
York. Three weeks later Miss Higginson remon- 
strates with him for excess of toil : he has preached 
three times on the previous Sunday at Thome, 
and walked sixty mUes to and fro : not without 
reason was it that the next letter should narrate 
her distress at his being again ill : nor again, was 
it without reason that he should afterwards describe 
himself as converted from an engineer into an 

The last year of College (1826-27) was full of the 
student's hopes and fears. Even before it began 
Miss Higginson reports (Sept. 13) that her brother 
Edward, who has been at Loughborough, brings 
him an invitation to settle there. Later on comes 
a proposal from Taunton, and then another from 
the Ancient Chapel, at Toxteth Park, Liverpool : 
but prospects are darkened by ominous consulta- 
tions with a doctor at York about his fitness for 
ministerial work. The result was that he accepted 
an invitation from Mrs. Carpenter, of Bristol, to 


take temporary charge of the school, during her 
husband's absence from ill health. This plan had 
the advantage of relieving him from the immediate 
strain of pulpit duty, but in consenting to undertake 
the work which threw that into the background, 
he reserved his freedom in the future to dedicate 
himself to its high, if also its exhausting, calling.^ 
Meanwhile he rearranged the College library — 
' books,' wrote Miss Higginson, ' are one of your 
passions,' — and prepared for his farewells. There 
was a students' party at Bishopthorpe three miles 
away, which could be reached by road or river. 
Tea at the village inn was followed by a game at 
bowls ; in days before temperance agitations had 
invaded theological colleges, the healths of departing 
comrades were drunk in punch. On that occasion, 
as one of the little band well remembered, ' Mar- 
tineau expressed regret for having confined himself 
so exclusively to one friendship during part of his 
College course, and said that, if he had his time 
over again, he should wish to avoid that error, 
and be more generally companionable.'* His last 
sermon was delivered before the Trustees of the 
College, from i Cor. iii. 21-23^ ; a few days later 
he preaches on July 4 one of the annual sermons of 
the Eastern Unitarian Society at Halesworth, Suffolk, 
from John iv. 35. Around him are the fields ripening 
for the harvest, and he enlarges ' on the exertions 

1 Correspondence with his mother, Jan. 19, 1827. 

" Recollections of Mr. Alfred Paget, Leicester, who left at 
the same time. Life, i. 43. 

' ' Wherefore let no one gloryin men. For all things are yours, 
whether Paul, or ApoUos, or Cephas,' etc. 

56 COLLEGE YEARS, 1822-1827 [ch. 11 

which the present age demands, and the facilities 
it affords for the diffusion of knowledge and truth.'^ 
On August I he leaves Derby for Bristol. He has 
not allowed himself much of what he afterwards 
described as ' that richest of all vacations which 
lies between the University and the world.'* 

1 The preacher next morning was the Rev. Michael Maurice, 
father of Frederick Denison Maurice, who was not yet ready for 
his life-work. After the meeting there was a collation, when the 
thanks of the Society were voted to Lord John Russell for bis 
readiness to assist the Dissenters in obtaining the repeal of 
the Test and Corporation Acts. Monthly Repository, 1827, 
p. 850. See below, chap. IV. § i. 

2 Essays, i. 403. 



At Bristol James Martineau re-entered as teacher, 
the home from which as pupil he had carried 
away life-long impressions. There was the familiar 
house with the same punctual administrator of all 
its details at the head in the person of Mrs. Carpenter, 
and the same three sisters of whom he had taken a 
boy's leave six years before. But in the interval 
he had ' become a man.' 

The school-work which immediately engaged him 
was arduous. Dr. Carpenter had never spared him- 
self ; it was not likely that his representative would 
be more self-considerate. Remonstrances began to 
flow in upon him without delay ; but the natural 
adjustments of new labour gradually brought greater 
ease, and after some weeks his chief correspondent 
was satisfied that he was not finding his multiform 
engagements, including the supply of Lewin's Mead 
pulpit for one or two months, too much for him. 
Such duty was full of interest to him. But it 
was also full of toil. ' I never could write to order,' 

58 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 fCH. lu 

he once said in his last years (1896), ' I only make 
a mess of it till it spontaneously comes, and I 
cannot help it ' ; and throughout his ministry 
the preparation of sermons involved a kind of effort 
not far removed from severe, if purifying, pain. 
Moreover, even before he left College, his sister 
Harriet had sent him prudent advice to be reticent 
in matters of opinion which might startle his hearers ; 
one of his old school-fellows had already been shocked 
by a remark, couched no doubt in the strain of 
his Principal's teaching, about the prophecies. 
Under these circumstances composition could never 
be easy to him. Tradition, long preserved at Great 
George St., related that he would shut himself up 
on Saturday evenings with a caddy of green tea, 
In the morning the sermon was finished, and the 
caddy was empty. 

Bristol had ceased to be the second city of the 
kingdom, but it contained men of no less distinction 
than Martineau's native Norwich. John Prior 
Estlin, one of the ministers of Lewin's Mead Meeting 
(1771-1817), had been the friend of Priestley and 
Mrs. Barbauld, Southey and Coleridge. The scien- 
tific eminence of his son, Mr. John Bishop Estlin, 
the beloved adviser and friend of Dr. Carpenter, 
' a figure most dear while visible, and sacred ever 
since,'^ brought Martineau at once into intimate 
relations with an active group, which included 
Dr. Prichard, who had already taken the first steps 
in his studies of anthropology^ ; the Rev. W. D. 

^ Letter to Miss Estlin, May 1 1, 1895 : Life, u 49. 

2 His Researches as to the Physical History of Man had just been 
issued in a second edition, 2 vols. 1826. 


Conybeare, the early master of Sedgwick in geology, 
who founded the Bristol Institution and Museum 
in conjunction with Sir Henry de la Beche ; John 
Foster, the essayist ; and Robert Hall, the preacher. 
Martineau's own scientific tastes inclined him to 
botany. When Mary Carpenter (then away from 
home) reached her twenty-first birthday in April, 
1828^ he sent her (with characteristic elaborateness 
of expression) ' a few specimens from the simplest 
and most graceful department of Nature's pro- 
ductions.' They were plants from his own modest 
herbarium. In the great Baptist preacher Robert 
Hall, Martineau found indeed no model for imitation ; 
he never attempted in these years to pray or 
preach extempore ; but in the sermons at the 
Broadmead Chapel he discerned an attitude of 
spirit which became afterwards his own. Not tiU 
the speaker had lost himself, he would say, and 
all consciousness of his hearers had faded, could 
he discharge his true function, and pour out his 
soul before the only Holy. The essence of the 
sermon was soliloquy. 

So the months ran swiftly on, and 1828 opened. 
Various interests gleam through the family letters. 
Now it is the singing of ' Tom Moore,' whom Miss 
Higginson has met at the house of Mr. Strutt : — 
' he sits down to the instrument and plays a soft 
and sweet accompaniment, and with the tiniest 
voice imaginable, and face upturned as if it saw 
nothing but the subject of his song, sends every 
word distinct and clear, and with its own peculiar 
expression, to your heart.' Now it is the petitions 
of Dissenters for the repeal of the Test and Corpora- 

60 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 \ca.m 

\ tion Acts^ ; and then the alternations of hopes and 
plans for the future. The first mention of a vacancy 
at Dublin reaches him in February ; early in March 
he decides to give up his school engagement at mid- 
summer ; then he is invited to preach at Dublin 
and is warned not to be metaphysical ; while in 
April his future wife writes joyously ' I have an idea 
that you and I shall be young at heart to the last 
day of our lives, how long soever they may be.' 
The visit to Dublin was not decisive ; the congrega- 
tion at Lewin's Mead learned that Dr. Carpenter 
would close his school and resume his pastorate, 
and they begged Martineau to remain as his junior 
colleague ; there was even a plan for a school in 
the neighbouring village of Frenchay, and a ministry 
in the little chapel there.^ At length, however, the 
chief difficulties were overcome. The farewells 
were said at Great George St. The boys wrote of 
the happiness they had enjoyed in his society, 
the advantEige they had derived from his instruction, 
and his unprecedented kindness in their hours of 
recreation and amusement : and he in reply spoke 
of ' the humble and humbling distance ' at which 
he had followed their other instructor. ^ To the three 
sisters he wrote in terms very different from those 

* This was carried in 1828, see below, chap. IV. § i. 

2 Long the scene of the labours of the Rev. Michael Maurice. 

3 Many years after he wrote (in i86<j) to the Rev. J. H. Allen, 
of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts : ' I can sympathise from ex- 
perience in all your pedagogic troubles and satisfactions. On the 
whole, I have a good opinion of boy-nature ; trustfully and 
generously treated, it seldom fails to yield a rewarding response. 
But it keeps one awake, and needs for its management the full 
vigour of manhood. Old schoolmasters should be prohibited : 
I would pension them ofi as emeriti at 45.' 

§ii] REMOVAL TO DUBLIN, 1828 61 

of the boyish leave-taking of seven years before, 
accepting their parting gift ' as the memorial of a 
kindness which has made me in spirit your brother, 
which has cheered the darker moments of a year 
of solicitude and perplexity, and infused into its 
happier hours a degree of domestic enjoyment 
which, during a year of solitary duty, I had no 
right to expect. Farewell, my dear friends. Your 
lot as well as my own is involved in much un- 
certainty. Be not anxious and troubled ; with a 
confiding heart I commend you all to Him in whose 
hands our times are.' 


The next stage in the story is thus related in 
Dr. Martineau's own words. 

1 remained at Bristol only a year. At the end of that time 
I was invited, on occasion of the retirement of Rev. PhiUp Taylor^ 
from active duty, to the post of Junior Minister of Eustace St. 
Presbyterian Meeting House, Dublin ; the Senior acting pastor 
being the Rev. Joseph Hutton.^ Intent upon reaching the end 
to which I had dedicated myself, I accepted the invitation, 
disregarding the surrender which it involved of half my income. 
My decision induced Dr. Carpenter to relinquish his boys' school, 
and devote his house to the education of girls under the direction 
of Mrs. Carpenter and his daughters. I was in consequence urged 
to take with me to Dublin several of our older pupils, and especi- 
ally to provide a home which would enable two brothers, to whom 
I was much attached, to live with their widowed mother under 
my roof. She had sufficient confidence in me to offer the neces- 
sary advances (nearly £700) for purchasing the leasehold interest 
of an adequate house ; and in December, 1828, I married Helen, 
eldest child of Rev. Edward Higginson, of Derby, and took my 

^ First cousin of his father, Thomas Martineau. He had begua 
his ministry there in 1777. 

2 Grandfather of the late Mr. Richard Holt Hutton. 

62 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-I&32 [CH. iii 

wife home to the administration of a large and various household, 
including half-a-dozep pupils, half of them entered at Trinity 
GoUege, and half still under my sole care.^ 

He had escorted his mother to Newcastle, and 
passed thence to Cariisle. The September voyage 
to Portpatrick was stormy, but the welcome of his 
kinsfolk at Harold's Cross, near Dublin, soon 
obliterated the recollection of the tossing vessel. 
His first service was conducted on September 28, 
and he reported — ' Though I did not finish my 
sermon till Sunday morning, I was not hurried as 
usual : I had made regular progress with my subject 
without excitement or difiiculty, and was in no 
degree pressed for time.' The agitation for Cathohc 
emancipation was creating grave apprehensions in 
England ; the new-comer, finding everything peace- 
ful, only laughed at the ' transmarine alarm,' and 
proceeded to develop rapid plans for the education 
of the young. The pulpit duties were not exacting, 
only one sermon a fortnight falling to his share. 
After the second had been delivered, he writes 
' fuU of the new and deep interest of preaching 
to my own people, with a settled feeling of respon- 
sibility and hope.' On October 26 he was solemnly 

The congregation which had worshipped for 
more than a hundred years in the Presbyterian 
Meeting in Eustace Street, derived its origin from 
the Act of Uniformity, when Samuel Winter, D.D., 
Provost of Trinity College, and Samuel Mather, 
a Senior Fellow, co-pastors in the parish of St. 

1 Copious letters to Bristol show how he relied on Dr. Carpenter's 
advice and aid in all the business negotiations. 


Nicholas, gave up their preferment. Its history 
was analogous to that of the congregations of 
Norwich, York, and Bristol, with which James 
Martineau had been in turn associated. The re- 
ligious significance of this development he had 
yet to learn ; in the meantime he found himself 
in the midst of a new t5^e of organisation. The 
Irish Presbyterians had retained some of the forms 
of ecclesiastical association and ordinance which their 
English brethren had either never instituted, or 
had long ceased to use. There was a Dublin Pres- 
bytery, which belonged to the Synod of Munster, 
whilst the non-subscribing Presbyterians of the 
North^ formed the Presbytery of Antrim. So it 
came to pass that on Sunday, October 26, the Dublin 
pastors assembled at the Eustace Street Meeting 
for the ancient ceremony of the ' laying on of hands.' 
Four ministers took part in it : the Rev. Joseph 
Hutton preached on the Christian's character, 
duties, and privileges ; the Rev. James Armstrong, 
' senior minister of the Presbyterian Church of 
Strand Street,' followed with a discourse on the 
nature and validity of Presbyterian ordination^ ; 
the venerable Philip Taylor, acting . as Moderator, 

1 These had been ejected in 1726 from the Synod of Ulster 
in consequence of a vote imposing adherence to the Westminster 

2 It was characteristic of contemporary English Unitarianism 
(which was strongly Congregational) that after the publication 
of these proceedings this discourse was severely criticised in the 
Monthly Repository, 1829, by W.T. (presumably the Rev. WilUam 
Turner, of Newcastle). Mr. Martineau anticipated such criticism ; 
in announcing the expected pamphlet to Dr. Carpenter, Jan. 25, 
1829, he says ' I shall prefix a short preface, in defence of ordina- 
tion services for the good of the radical Unitarians of my own 

64 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [CH. m 

offered the ordination prayer^ ; and the Rev. William 
Hamilton Drummond, D.D., deUvered an impressive 
charge to the new minister and his congregation.* 
The most significant part of the proceedings was 
the testimony of the congregation to their adherence 
to their ' call,' and the declaration of the yoimg 
pastor concerning his views of his ofl&ce.' Affirming 
that every Minister of the Gospel is ' the servant 
of Revelation, appointed to expound its doctrines, 
to enforce its precepts, and to proclaim its sanctions,' 
he ascribed to the Creator, and to him alone, every 
conceivable perfection : — 

He is the source of power to whom all things are possible — 
He is boundless in wisdom, from whom no secrets can be hidden 
— He is love ; the origin of all good, himself the greatest ; and 
the dispenser of suffering only that we may be partakers of his 
hoUness — He is spotless in holiness ; his will the only source 
of moraUty, and the eternal enemy of sin — ^He is self-existent 
and immutable, for ever pervading and directing all things,* 
and searching all hearts ; the being from whom we came, and 
with whom, in happiness or woe, all men must spend eternity. 

The Irish type of doctrine on the person of Christ 
was prevailingly Arian : it will be noticed that in 
the following exposition controversial differences 
are avoided. 

•• At the words ' We devoutly pray that the choicest influences 
of thy Holy Spirit may descend on this thy servant,' the ministers 
laid their hands on James Martineau's head. ' The action is 
merely momentary,' wrote the young minister a week later to Dr. 
Lant Carpenter, ' and, certainly as it was used on the late occasion, 
appeared no more than a natural epideictic gesture.' 

2 ' Full of practical Evangelical wisdom,' said the letter just 
quoted, ' pointedly and powerfully expressed.' 

3 • In compliance with the general practice in Ireland, I did 
this extemporaneously.' Ibid. 

* This phrase must be understood in the light of the passages 
cited in chap. II. pp. 50-52. 


Him I acknowledge as the Mediator between God and man, 
wlio was appointed to produce by his life, and yet more pecu- 
liarly by his death, an unprecedented change in the spiritual condi- 
tion of mankind, and to open a new and living way of salvation. >■ 
No pledge of divine love to the human race impresses me so 
deeply, as the voluntary death of Jesus Christ, and his exaltation 
to that position which he now holds above all other created 
beings, where he lives for evermore, and from which he shall 
hereafter judge the world in righteousness. I receive and 
reverence him, not merely for that sinless excellence, which 
renders him a perfect pattern to our race ; but as the com- 
missioned delegate of Heaven, on whom the Spirit was poured 
without measure — as the chosen representative of the Most High, 
in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. As 
authorities for our duties, as fountains of consoling and elevating 
truth, Jesus and the Father are one ; and, in all subjects of 
religious faith and obedience, not to honour him as we honour 
the Father, is to violate our allegiance to him as the great Captain 
of our salvation. When Jesus commands, I would listen as to a 
voice from Heaven ; when he instructs, I would treasure up his 
teachings as the words of everlasting truth ; when he forewarns 
of evil, I would take heed and fly as from impending ruin ; when 
he comforts, I would lay my heart to rest as on the proffered 
mercy of God ; when he promises, I would trust to his assurances 
as to an oracle of destiny. 

Hence, I regard it as my duty to lead my hearers to this Saviour 
as the way, the truth, and the life ; to urge on them his injunc- 
tions ; to awaken in them a vital faith in his mission, an awe 
of his authority, a reliance on his predictions. More especially 
would I impress them with the conviction that this life is the 
infancy of existence ; that its discipline is designed to conduct 
them to a state where all that is imperfect shall be done away ; 
and that as they know not the day nor the hour when the Son 
of Man shall appear, it becomes them, by vigilance and prayer, 
to hold themselves ready at every watch. 

The primary duties of the Christian minister were, 
accordingly, ' to awaken devotion to God, obedient 
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and practical ex- 
pectation of eternity.' Among his secondary duties 
were the study and explanation of ' God's word.' — 

In these inquiries and instructions he requires, and can receive, 
no aid from the authority of any man, or any church. His most 

1 The Ariau view which ascribed to the death of Christ a positive 
influence upon God, as a condition of human salvation, is here 

66 FIRST MINISTRY, J827-1832 [ch. iii 

valuable guides are his own mind, and his own conscience ; and 
his most valuable privilege in the use of these, is his unquestion- 
able right of private judgment. Whether he study, or whether 
he teach, let him stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ 
hath made him free. 

Such were the young pastor's ahns, and he prayed 
that he might pursue them with charity towards 
all, and a prevailing sense of accountability to the 
great Searcher of hearts. 

Full well do I know that I must review hereafter, in the un- 
veiled presence of God, the ministry on which I have now entered ; 
and that I must then meet those who surround me now, and 
whose spiritual interests I bind myself to serve. That no one 
then may appear to reproach me with unfaithfulness — that there 
may be no wanderer from the fold of Christ, whom my neglect 
may have caused to stray, is the earnest and solemn desire 
which I now profess before God and my brethren. 


The ministry thus begun was swiftly involved 

in what outsiders might designate pohtical agitation. 

I With his senior colleague, Mr. Hutton, Mr. Martineau 

I had signed a Protestant declaration in favour of 

Catholic emancipation.^ A few days after the 

1 Out of this arose an incident which Mr. Martineau thus 
described in a speech at Liverpool, Dec. 18, 1868, just after Mr. 
Gladstone had formed the ministry which was to disestablish 
the Irish Church. ' When I first settled in Ireland, and saw what 
the spirit of Protestant ascendancy was, it produced on me a 
shock perfectly indescribable. I remember very well, during 
the agitation in the early part of O'Connell's career for Catholic 
Emancipation, signing with my colleague, the father of the late 
Dr. Hutton, a petition in favour of Catholic Emancipation ; 
and how two or three of the elders of our congregation came to 
us and remonstrated with us for daring to sign such a petition 
in the capacity of ministers. Their concluding sentence was : 
" Gentlemen, we have been credibly informed that it is very 
improper for ministers to meddle with politics" ; and I very well 
remember the quiet dignity with which Mr. Hutton replied : 
" Well, gentlemen, if you have been so informed, you have been 

§iii] AT DUBLIN, 1828 67 

ordination service the windows of the Eustace 
Street Meeting were broken by a mob ; and the 
damage was laid at the door of the Orange party. 
Writing to England on November 4, Mr. Martineau 
gave a simpler explanation : it was ' really a mob 
of glaziers' boys, availing themselves of a Bnmswick 
dinner to coUect a crowd, and find an excuse for 
creating work for their masters.' It was needful 
to reassure his English relations. His sister Harriet 
was fuU of the most definite presages of ill, and 
asked whether he was prepared for separation 
and a long protracted war between the two countries. 
Miss Higginson, on the other hand, applauded 
' Shiel's glorious speech,' and added, ' Be it en- 
thusiasm or what you will, I glory in the thought 
of going to Ireland in her wrongs, and as it were 
adopting her in her affliction.' At length the 
difficulties of finding a suitable home for wife and 
pupils were surmounted. A house was secured 

misinformed." ' — His interest in politics carried him from meeting ( 
to meeting to hear O'Connell, and he was often at the house of; 
the ' United Irishman,' Alexander Rowan Hamilton, Centenary 
Address, p. 29. He was hardly back from his wedding tour 
when he attended the great meeting on behalf of Catholic Emanci- 
pation on Jan. 22, 1829. ' It was indeed inspiring,' he reported 
to Dr. Carpenter, three days later, ' like the uprising of a nation 
determined to be free.' This note of ardour breaks out even 
more triumphantly on another occasion (to the same friend. 
Sept, 9, 1830) : ' France ! glorious France 1 Has tiiere ever 
been a week since the Resurrection which has promised such 
accumulated blessings to our race, as that week of national! 
regeneration ? Where will it end ? The invigorating shock 
must pass through the Netherlands, Spain, Italy. When that 
revolution is compared with any period of history, in what an 
encouraging light does it exhibit modem character and mind. 
The whole struggle has been conducted in a spirit of disinterested- 
ness which to me is impressive in the highest degree. Such a 
people must be almost within sight of the value of religious truth.' 

68 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [ch. in 

in Blessington Street, and furnished early in De- 
cember ; and Mr. Martineau left for England to 
claim his bride. They were married at Derby on 
December 18, took a ' quiet course through the 
mountain sohtudes of Wales,'^ and on Sunday, 
January 11, 1829, Mrs. Martineau summed up the 
hopes and fears of many years in her first entry 
in her journal at Dublin, after hearing her husband 
preach in his own pulpit, ' It has all come true.' 

For the next three years the home was full of 
eager and laborious Hfe. When the preacher a 
quarter of a century later emphasised ' the prior 
discipline of care and patience, the Spartan bread 
of toil and self-denial, the slow command of wages 
saved, the cautious use of that incipient store,' 
which lay the true foundation for the merchant's 
thrift and faithfulness,* he described what had been 
the rule of his own estabUshment. The same spirit 
of economy as a duty, because time, like wealth, was 
a trust, watched over the allotment of his hours. 
To his numerous pupils, in their several stages of 
advance, he always gave his best with unfeiiling 
regularity. The congregational lecture, the cate- 
chetical class (the success of which gave him much 
gratification), required careful preparation ; and 
this he could always engage to discharge. Some 
of his Dublin note-books show how wide was his 
range. He had to revise his mathematics and 
leam the differential instead of the fluxional notation: 
he had to revise his Hebrew, which Mr. Wellbeloved 

1 ' A land of marvels even to a lover of Scotland,'* he wrote to 
Dr. Carpenter, Jan. 25, 1829. 

2 * Owe no man anything,' Liverpool, 1856 ; Essays, iv. 503. 

§m] LABOURS AT DUBLIN, 1829 69 

had taught without the points.^ Now it was 
science, chemistry, light, electricity, with earlier 
materials from his Bristol school-days ; now it was 
literature, with glances at Greece and India, Persia, 
and Chaldea, or even at China by the help of the 
Jesuit fathers and their Lettres 6difiantes. All 
these were within the compass of the scholar's 
energy. But the preacher's word could not be 
thus punctually summoned ; and in July, 1829, 
Mrs. Martineau wrote to her brother Edward Higgin- 
son, ' The sermon production is the more slow and 
anxious because not at the command of mere will, 
but largely dependent upon moods of mind that 
cannot be unconditionally forced.' The Saturday 
hours were often insufficient ; fastidiousness of 
expression added its embarrassment to weight of 
thought and intensity of feehng ; and the last 
words were often written while the car waited at 
the door, or even in the vestry or the pulpit. 

Beyond his pastoral circle lay a wider range. 
The Eustace St. congregation was conspicuous for 
its philanthropies. Besides an almshouse for twelve 
poor widows, there were admirably managed charity 
schools for boys and girls. Admission to these 
schools was by election in the open vestry of the 
congregation. On one occasion an orphan was 
brought, whose guardian confessed on enquiry 
that one parent was a Catholic. The anger of the 
chairman, usually ' a very pattern of Christiem 

^ There were other divines in worse case than himself. Taking 
part one day in an examination of candidates for the ministry, 
he noticed that some of his elder colleagues in the Presbytery 
held their Hebrew Bibles upside down. 

70 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [CH. Ill 

courtesy,' roused the young pastor's amazement 
and indignation : ' From that moment I made up 
my mind that there never could be the least hope 
for this countrj' until the blot of Protestant as- 
cendency should be utterly and entirely erased.'^ 
Such experiences filled him with dismay ; they 
revealed a spirit so different from that of the Enghsh 
Liberals led by his political hero. Lord John Russell. 
Speaking at a meeting of the British and Foreign 
Unitarian Association at Manchester in June, 
1830, he described with some bitterness the diffi- 
culties which its cause had to encounter in Ireland. 

The effect of the discussion of that great question which 
has now been for ever set at rest,^ has been to divide the country 
into two great parties, the Protestant and the Catholic. All 
parties have oppressed the Catholics, and even the Dissenters, 
so far from coming forward to assist the injured Catholics, 
have stood close to the Church and supported them in their 
unrighteous domination. The early history of Presbyterianism 
has spread those habits of crouching to power which are inimical 
to universal liberty. A century and a half ago the Presbyterian 
Church comprised all the gentry and nobiUty. Since that 
time the Establishment has Uke a vortex swallowed up this in- 
fluence ; but the ministers of the Gospel, according to their 
usual practice, instead of leading public opinion, have followed 
the ebbing tide, and prepared to plant their feet in a dry place. 

It was natural, therefore, that the young pastor, 
full of the zeal kindled at York, should seek to 
awaken a similar enthusiasm in Ireland. Already 
in the first year of his settlement he was astir. The 
ministers of the two Dublin Congregations united 

1 Speech at Liverpool, Dec. 18, 1868. 

2 Catholic Emancipation was passed in 1829. He had awaited 
it with high expectations. ' What glorious times are these,' 
he wrote to Dr. Carpenter, Feb. 25, 1829. ' I pity the unhappy 
souls who cannot feel the exultation and hope with which we 
must look on the progress of events.' 

§iii] LABOURS AT DUBLIN, 1829 7I 

in a course of lectures at Strand St. in March and 
April, 1829. ' Nothing of the kind has yet been 
attempted here,' explained Mr. Martineau to Dr. 
Lant Carpenter, ' and in spite of the apprehensions 
of the timid, I anticipate good restolts from it.' 
Prof. Henry Ware, who had sailed from Boston for 
England in April, 1829,^ made a summer visit to 
Belfast and Dublin. They were ' fuU of business 
and excitement to us,' he wrote to Prof. Andrews 
Norton in August, ' owing to the present state of 
religious parties, and the organisation which is 
now making, of the Unitarian body.'^ Ten days 
later the same witness testified to Dr. Lant Car- 
penter, ' I passed a fortnight in Ireland with ' 
great satisfaction. The state of things among our 
brethren is fuU of interest and life ; and I believe 
they are wide awake to the call of the times, and 
fully equal to the emergency. There are fine spirits 
among them.'* In that nmnber he no doubt included 
the junior pastor of Eustace Street.* Dr. Martineau 

1 He had just exchanged the ministry of the second Church, 
Boston, for a chair in the Divinity School at Harvard University. 

2 This reference probably included the plans for the Re- 
monstrant Synod of Ulster, formed in 1830, as well as the Asso- 
ciation mentioned below, to which there is already an allusion 
in a letter to Dr. Carpenter, May 18, 1829 : ' On Saturday next 
it is probable that an Irish Unitarian Association will be organised, 
or at any rate that steps directly preparatory to such a measure 
will be decided on.' The future Martineau already speaks in 
the same letter : ' I think that Unitarianism in this country ( 
must in some respects assume more the aspect it has in America] 
than that which it bears in England. I mean that instead 01^ 
forming the distinct and nominal characteristic of a sect, it' 
must rather run through previously existing sects. Presby 
terianism will still exist here and give us our name.' 

^ Life of Henry Ware, Junior, Boston, 1846. 
■•To Dr. J. H. Allen, of Cambridge, Mass., Dr. Martineau 
wrote in 1891 in acknowledgment of a family Memorial of Joseph 

72 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [ch. m 

himself afterwards dwelt with affectionate remem- 
brance on his intercourse with some of the alumni 
of the Warrington Academy, such as Dr. Bruce of 
Belfast.^ But his hopes for the future centered in 
a yoimger generation, ' Dr. Drummond, the very 
flower of Christian sympathy, and the noble, the 
rich-minded Montgomery.'* On St. Patrick's Day, 
March 17th, 1830, an influential meeting was held 
in Dublin to constitute the Irish Unitarian Christian 
{Society. It embraced both individuals and con- 
/gregations.^ The terms Arian and Socinian were 
avoided, for such names would place them in the 
ranks of human leaders, and divided by minor 
shades of sentiment those who were united in one 
grand principle. In his speech in promoting this 
foundation Martineau gave emphatic utterance 
to his love of liberty. Free discussion and free 
inquiry were kindred rights ; their promise was 
written on the same page in the charter of human 

and Lucy Clark Allen, ' The early pages carried me back to my 
Dublin ministry, during which both Dr. and Mrs. Kirkland 
and Henry Ware, junr., and wife were repeated visitors at my 
house.' Dr. Kirkland was President of Harvard University. 
Of Mr. Ware the host wrote to Dr. Carpenter, ' He is a truly 
intelligent and good man ; but he has a Uttle, I thought, of the 
personal coldness and national vanity, which, in spite of their 
levelling principles and collective ardour, republics perhaps 
tend to produce.' 

1 Centenary Address, p. 29. 

2 Speech at Manchester, June, 1830. Dr. Henry Montgomery 
was the well-known minister of Dunmurry, four miles from 
Belfast. In private correspondence, however, he confessed 
that he found both ministers and laymen ' marvellously slow 
in all their movements.' 

3 How Dr. Martineau afterwards came to reject this type of 
denominational organisation, will be described hereafter. See 
chaps. VII. and XIII. 

§iu] LABOURS AT DUBLIN, 183O 73 

treedom ; and the hand that would tear away 
the one, would inevitably cancel the other. It 
was natural therefore, for hitn to declare that 
' while professing attachment to the principles of 
Unitarian Christianity, we prize yet more that 
privilege of free inquiry from the exercise of which 
they spring ; regarding it as the noblest prerogative 
of religious beiQgs, we purpose, in our language and 
conduct, freely to use it for ourselves, and habitually 
to reverence it as the equal right of others ; to 
resist every open encroachment and protest against 
all secret influence, which may interfere with this 
boon from the God of truth.'^ 

Such words were really in advance of the temper 
of his people. When he let fall an expression 
impljdng the simple humanity of Christ, he lost in 
Dublin the most attached friend he had among his 
hearers, who took his household away from him 
with lamentations and tears.^ It was not unnatural, 
therefore, that when he came back from the Man- 
chester meetings to preach before the Synod of 
Munster at Cork on July 7, he should choose for his 
subject ' Peace in Division : the Duties of Christians 
in an Age of Controversy.' The sermon was printed, 
— it was his first publication^ — and evoked in Eng- 
land a warm welcome : ' it makes our hearts glow 
with a dehghtful hope of the good to be accomplished 
by its author in the future of his ministerial labours.'* 

'^ Monthly Repository, 1830. 

^ ' Memorial Preface ' to A Spiritual Faith, sermons by John 
Hamilton Thom, 1895. 

3 Reprinted in Studies of Christianity, 1858. 

* Monthly Repository, 1830, p. 783. 

74 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [cH. iri 

From Cork he returned home to the first sorrow 
of his wedded life. On July 14 the infant daughter, 
bom in December, 1829, passed from her parents' 
keeping. Three days later she was buried in the 
French Protestants' burial ground, and Mrs. Mar- 
tineau recorded the ' melancholy consolation ' felt 
by the stricken father in giving her to a spot conse- 
crated to his ancestors who suffered for conscience' 
sake.^ The home was not long solitary. A few 
months later a boy was bom, whom his father named 
RusseU after the English champion of civil and 
rehgious liberty, and in the spring of 1832 came 
another daughter, Isabella. But the hopes buried 
in the Uttle grave were never forgotten. Ere they 
left Ireland that summer, the father and mother 
made their silent farewells beside it. Threescore 
years after, while Trinity College was celebrating 
its Tercentenary festival, one of its newest graduates, 
still erect at eighty-seven, left the academic halls 
for the ancient cemetery, and with yet another 
daughter stood by the spot hallowed by early grief 
and the victory of faith.* 


The following year brought interesting and 
decisive events. Mr. Martineau had been for some 

1 The French refugees had originally fonned two Presbyterian 
congregations in Dublin. 

2 To Dr. Carpenter, the day after his bereavement, he had 
\mtten, ' We are human, perhaps too full of unchastened human 
feeling ; but while we own the stroke to be very heavy, never 
had we a firmer conviction that we are in the hands of a Father 
who loves us yet better than we loved our child.' 


time engaged in preparing a new hymn-book at the 
desire of his congregation. He was much concerned 
with ' the part which the imagination and affections 
perform in true worship,' and was anxious to ' bring 
all the resources of lyric poetry (the poetry of the 
affections) into the service of religion.' The philo- 
sophy of Priestley — apart from his own devout 
expositions of it — had not been altogether favourable 
to this aim.^ The compilers of a hymn-book issued 
at Warrington in 1819 ' thought it right to exclude 
the term " soul," which cannot fail to excite un- 
pleasant feelings in many serious minds while 
engaged in the solemnities of public worship.'^ 
With this remorseless consistency, Mr. Martineau, 
ardent Priestleyan as he was, had no sympathy. 
His collection, which included 273 hymns, was based 
on one previously employed at Eustace Street ; 
but it introduced a large number of new hymns. 
The Norwich writers, John Taylor and Wilham 
Taylor, Sir J. E. Smith, and Harriet Martineau, 
were naturally well represented. But beside Dodd- 
ridge, Watts, and Steele, and the contemporary 
Montgomery, there now appeared the latest voices 
of AngUcan piety, MUman and Heber,^ no less than 
eighteen hymns being derived from the latter, 
and the preface giving to him ' the merit of first 
liberalising the style of the poetry designed for our 

1 See chap. IV. § iv. 

2 The reason was that ' after the late investigations on this 
subject many Christians are satisfied that the doctrine [of an 
immaterial and separable principle in man] rests on no founda- 
tion whatever.' 

* Heber's hjrmns were published posthumously in 1827 ; the 
collection included 13 by Mllman. 

76 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-I832 [ch. iii 

churches.' With the Wesley h3Tiins, which after- 
wards moved the editor so deeply, he was evidently 
as yet unacquainted. The practice of doctrinal 
adaptation was earnestly defended, but ' there has 
not been any fastidious rejection of the form of 
address to our Lord.' Poetical invocation need not 
be confounded with religious homage.^ 

Four days before the preface was written (Oct. i), 
the venerable senior Pastor, Philip Taylor, died on 
Sept. 27. Grave were the issues of the event for 
his young colleague. A week after the funeral 
sermon had been preached by Mr. Hutton, Mrs. 
Martineau wrote, 'Regium Donum is coming on, 
and we know not what the issue will be ; we only 
know what it is right to do. The reahties of life 
are on us indeed.' The same entry in her journal 
added that her husband had a firm conviction 
that an attack of cholera was impending, and felt 
himself perpetually influenced by it : ' it is likely 
to help us more to a realisation of death and futurity 
than anything to which this world commonly 
subjects us.' 

' Regium Donum ' had evidently long been in 
the minds of the young couple, and they had decided 
on their course. The Regium Donum was the 

1 On this ground Mr. Martinean's later hymn-book. Hymns 
for the Christian Church and Home, (first published in 1840, 
see chap. VIII.) was exposed in 1852 to some severe criticism. 
In defending it {Inquirer, Dec. 25, 1852) Mr. Martineau urged 
that ' the hymns now most objected to were selected by me 
and adapted to public worship in Dublin twenty-three years ago, 
at a time when, as to intensity and rigour of Unitarian opinion, 
I was a very Hebrew of the Hebrews, steeped in the philosophy 
of Priestley, held fast in the exegesis of Cappe, and an Ebionite 
in stringency of zeal.' 

§iv] REGIUM DONUM, 183I 77 

name of an annual grant then bestowed by Parlia- 
ment on the Presb3rterian ministers.'^ The death 
of Mr. Taylor vacated a portion of stipend from 
this source, which now fell to Mr. Martineau as 
his successor. But he could not bring himself to 
receive it. In his own retrospect he described the 
position in the following terms : — 

Before accepting ministerial duty in Ireland, I ought to have 
acquainted myself fully with the relations between the Presby- 
terians and the State, and considered whether I could make 
myself a party to them. As, however, the retiring Pastor 
retained the Regium Donum attached to his office, so long as 
he lived, the question did not press itself upon my attention, 
and I carelessly passed it by, with a vague feeling, I beUeve, 
that nothing depended upon it beyond a Uttle more or less of 
ultimate salary. Before four years had expired, Mr. Taylor's 
death, devolving the grant upon me, brought the problem up 
for solution. Whether the theoretical objections which I then felt 
to any organised connection between Church and State, would 
alone have been decisive, I cannot tell. But, during my residence 
in Ireland, the gross injustice involved in the relative position 
of the CathoUc Church and the two chief Protestant bodies 
had become so oppressive to me that the very idea of being person- 
ally participant in it afiected me with shame. In a letter to my 
congregation I explained why I could not accept my succession 
to the Regium Donum, and expressed my wilUngness to dispense 
with the addition it would make to my salary ; or, should this 
concession to a personal scruple risk a permanent forfeiture 
for which they were not prepared, to place early in their hands 
the resignation of my ofi&ce. 

This letter* was read to his congregation on Sun- 
day, Oct. 30, and the decision upon it was adjourned 
for a fortnight. His sister Harriet, who was staying 
at Blessington Street, reported to her mother that 
the young people were all in sympathy, but the 

^ The total for England and Ireland amounted to upwards 
of ;^20,ooo, of which four-fifths were allotted as a distinct grant 
to Ireland. The history of it goes back to the reign of Charles II. 

* Printed in full in the Monthly Repository, 1831, p. 834. 

78 FIRST MINISTRY, 1827-1832 [ch. 111 

influential members were all on the other side. 
On the eve of the meeting which involved her son's 
future, Mrs. Martineau wrote in warm approval 
of his action, and his brother Henry confirmed her 
view : the Norwich home was naturally full of 
anxiety for the morrow's settlement, and one reads 
with a curious sense of changed conditions the 
concluding aspiration, ' Oh that there were a tele- 
graph ! ' 

The issue was unexpected. At the adjourned 
meeting, Nov. 13, the letter was construed into an 
immediate resignation unless the congregation forth- 
with relinquished the grant in permanence ; and 
it was proposed that the resignation should be 
accepted. Mr. Martineau's friends supported an 
amendment authorising him to act in the matter 
of the Royal Bounty according to the dictates of 
his conscience, without resignatiori. A division 
produced equal votes, and the chairman, giving 
his casting vote in favour of the existing practice, 
declared Mr. Martineau's ministry there and then 
at an end. The late junior Pastor, if he came into 
the meeting, could attend as a hearer only, which 
he actuEiUy did. A month later this strange situation 
ended with the unanimous adoption of an address 
asking him to continue his ministry as colleague 
with Mr. Hutton, now senior Pastor, till June, 1832. 
To this request he acceded. The result is thus 
related in his Biographical Memoranda. 

The crisis was a serious one in my affairs. It broke up my 
establishment of College students ; to periect which I had 
expended large sums upon my house ; and it compelled me to 
sell the house in a fallen market, and ask indulgence of time from 
the friend who had enabled me to make the purchase. I bad 


disqualified myself for resettlement among the Irish Presbyterians : 
and through my residence on the west side of the Channel, I 
was unknown in England.* A proposal was pressed upon me 
to establish in Dublin a congregation independent of all ecclesi- 
astical connection, and so free to exemplify the true principles 
of union for the promotion of the Christian Ufe. But the first 
elements of such a society would have been drawn from the 
Church which I was leaving : and I decUned to impair the unity 
and practical efficiency of congregations which had the prestige 
of a venerable history, and the conditions of reformed action 
in the future. Mr. W. J. Fox, who had visited me in Dublin^ 
and christened my eldest son Russell (after the reputed author 
of the Reform Bill), would have committed to my hands the 
organisation and conduct of the Domestic Mission in London, 
then projected though not commenced' : but I was conscious 
of no adequate store of resource and hopefulness for such a work. 
The suspense ended by my becoming colleague of Rev. John 
Grundy, in charge of the congregation of Protestant Dissenters 
meeting in Paradise St. Chapel, Liverpool. In the summer of 
1832 we vacated our first home, went the round of farewell 
visits to the friends who had brightened it by their affection, 
stood in silence together in the French Churchyard by a little 
grave which bears the name of our first-bom, and then crossed 
the sea with a son and daughter, to enter upon our second and 
longest term of unbroken service. 

1 This modest estimate ignores the fact that his action had 
excited much interest and sympathy. He preached the Annual 
sermon to the Young at Finsbury Chapel, London, on Jan. i, 
1832, and conducted the services at Stamford St., Blackfriars, 
the following Sunday, as a candidate for the vacant pulpit. 
But ' the resonant echoes of the naked floor, and the disheartening 
way in which my words seemed to return to me, made me think 
I had better work in another sphere.' Speech at Stamford St., 
June 6, 1877. 

2 Mr. Fox had preached at the first anniversary of the Irish 
Unitarian Christian Society in Dublin on Easter Sunday, 1831. 

' Mr. Martineau had himself supported a resolution urging its 
establishment at the meeting in Manchester, June, 1830. See 
p. 70. 



The England to which James Martineau returned 
in the autumn of 1832 had just passed through a 
great constitutional crisis. The royal assent had 
been given to the Reform Bill on June 7th. The 
day before, one of the most conspicuous personalities 
among the creators of the new era had passed away. 
Jeremy Bentham died on June 6th. The air was 
full of fears and hopes, and loud cries against abuses 
of all kinds rose on every hand. The voices which 
had been awakened by the French Revolution, had 
never been silenced ; the political philosophers and 
the poets had both had their share in shaping the 
lines of change and moulding fresh national ideals. 
Pauperism, education, the slave trade, revision of 
criminal law^ reform of municipal institutions, the 
application of sound principles to public finance, — 
these and a multitude of other questions had been 
long ripening in the public mind. Practical ex- 
perience in the shape of the burning of ricks and 
the breaking of machines disclosed the difficulties 
which beset the slow processes of the transformation 
of industries, and the terrible pressure exerted upon 
the poverty-stricken hosts among the labourers 


of town and country. The generation which pre- 
ceded the Reform Bill witnessed the rise of a wide 
variety of movements of thought which were 
destined to exercise enormous influence on the 
rehgion and philosophy, as well as on the politics, 
of England. In the midst of some of these James 
Martineau had been himself brought up ; and it 
seems fitting, therefore, to preface this account 
of him as theologian and teacher with a brief sketch 
of the forces which were in action around him, 
and the opportunities which they provided for his 
work. It was his lot to labour in the midst of 
a small religious community whose principles were 
often misunderstood ; and their attitude towards 
the theological and other problems of their time 
is not undeserving of regard. 

No Unitarian gathering of this period ever failed 
to do honour to the sentiment of ' Civil and 
Religious Liberty.' The hero of James Martineau's 
youth, Dr. Priestley, had been its devoted champion, 
and two generations were occupied in securing 
the freedom which he had been among the foremost 
to demand. The odious legislation of the seven- 
teenth century had all to be undone. In his Essay 
on the First Principles of Government, published in 
1768,1 Priestley had boldly proposed the abolition 

^It was under the influence of this essay that Bentham was 
said to have formulated his principle of ' the greatest happiness 
of the greatest number ' ; Sir Leslie Stephen, however, believes 
that the phrase was really due to Hutcheson, English Thought 
in the Eighteenth Century, ii. 61. 

82 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv 

of all penal laws in the sphere of religion. Every 
member of the community ought to enjoy all the 
rights of a citizen, whether he chose to conform to 
the established faith or not. The Unitarian move- 
ment in the Church led the way to the first steps 
towards this ideal. In 1772 a petition was presented 
to the House of Commons bearing two hundred 
signatures, embodying the suggestion of Archdeacon 
Blackbume^ to substitute a profession of belief 
in the Scriptures for a subscription to the Articles. 
For three successive years was the question debated, 
until it became clear that within the Church there 
was no hope of relief. But the case of the Dissenters 
stood on a different ground. The Toleration Act 
required that all ministers of religion, tutors, and 
schoolmasters, should subscribe the doctrinal Articles 
of the Establishment. When the nonconforming 
Unitarians defied this law, they were liable to fines, 
imprisonment, and exile.* Their position enlisted 
the support of Edmund Burke, who joined Sir 
Henry Houghton in promoting a bill in 1772 de- 
signed to allow a declaration of belief in the Scriptures 
as containing a divine revelation. Twice was this 
biU sent up to the House of Lords, and twice was 
it rejected through the influence of the bishops.' 

1 In his Confessional, 1766, 3rd ed., 1770. 

* The difficulties of the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey in opening 
a place of worship in Essex Street, London, in 1774, are related 
in his Memoir, by Mr. Belsham. 

» See Dr. Toulmin's Two Letters addressed to the Right Reverend 
Prelates who a second time rejected the Dissenters' Bill, 1793. In a 
Letter of Advice to those Dissenters who conduct the Application 
to Parliament for Relief from certain Penal Laws, 1773, Priestley 
animadverted severely on the language of one of his old pupils. 
Rev. Philip Taylor, at his ordination at Liverpool, June 21, 1770. 


Six years later the bishops unexpectedly surrendered, 
and in 1779 the first victory in the long battle was 

The next point of attack was found in the Test 
and Corporation Acts. In 1787 — the same year in 
which the Committee was formed for the abolition 
of the slave trade — Mr. Beaufoy brought forward 
a measure for their abolition. The motion for leave 
to introduce it was thrown out by a majority of 
178 against 100. The hostile speech of Pitt called 
forth a letter from Priestley,^ in which he further 
demanded the repeal of the statute of William III. 
which made it blasphemy to impugn the doctrine 
of the Trinity, liberty for Unitarians to be married 
by their own ministers, as well as the opening of 
the Universities, Oxford requiring subscription to 
the thirty-nine Articles even for matriculation, 
while Cambridge was satisfied with claiming it 
for the M.A. degree. The effort was repeated in 
1789, and again in 1790, when new difficulties 
appeared. Fox had taken the measure under his 
charge, and made one of his loftiest speeches in 
its support. But events were too strong for him. 
The French Revolution had begun. The previous 
November (1789) Dr. Price had preached to a 
society for commemorating the revolution of 1688. 

Mr. Taylor, while professing himself a hearty friend of the dissent- 
ing interest, added an expression of his disapproval of those who 
took a malicious pleasure in continually exposing the defects 
of the religion of their country, and in pouring out uncharitable 
censures against those who support and defend it. This was 
the future minister of Eustace St. Meeting, Dublin, and kinsman 
of James Martineau: ante, Chap. III., p. 61. 

1 Works, vol. xix. 

84 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

His Discourse on the Love of our Country enforced 
the need of complete religious toleration and of 
parliamentary reform, bade the governments of 
Europe consider the lessons of Paris, and was of 
sufficient importance to call Burke into the field 
with his Reflections on the Revolution in France, 
1790.^ The House of Commons was edarmed, 
and Fox's motion was decisively rejected. More 
than a generation elapsed ere it could be re- 
newed. One further proposal on behalf of the 
Unitarians was made two years later. Undeterred 
by the Birmingham riots of 1791, and the odium 
which had gathered round the names of Priestley 
and Price, the same brave champion of religious 
liberty moved on May nth, 1792, for leave to bring 
in a bill to repeal the act of WUliam III. which 
made the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity 
a penal offence. Burke found his argioments in 
the toasts which the Unitarians had drunk at the 
first annual dinner of their Book Society a year 
before,* and the danger which their principles in- 
volved to the Establishment : ' Such people were 
not fit men for relief or encouragement from their 
sentiments and connexions.'^ Lord North and Pitt 
both opposed the motion, which was of course lost ; 
but a young member who followed Burke in the 
debate, and courageously avowed himself a Uni- 
tarian, Mr. WiUiam Smith, was destined afterwards 

1 To these Priestley replied in the inevitable Letters to the 
Right Hon. Edmund Burke, 1791. 

2 See behtv, p. 109*. 

' Parliamentary History, vol. xxix. p. 1 394. 


as member for Norwich to get a similar measure 

Events marched rapidly in France, and the 
reaction in England was severe. The heroes of 
the Unitarian struggle for religious liberty, Price 
and Priestley, passed away. The protagonists in 
the Parliamentary arena, Pitt and Fox, both died 
in 1806, but not before another great measure 
had become necessary in the judgment of both 
statesmen, Catholic Emancipation, which the act 
of Union with Ireland in 1800 had rendered in- 
evitable. In May, 1805, when James Martineau 
lay in his cradle. Fox brought in a bill for Catholic 
reUef, and a similar bill was introduced by Lord 
GrenviUe in the House of Lords ; but both efforts 
were in vain. , The Unitarians, however, were clear- 
sighted enough to see that the CathoUc plea rested 
on principles of the same nature as their own, and 
they were not deterred by any religious prejudices 
from fighting in the same cause.^ The Protestant 
Nonconformists, however, were the first to obtain 
legislation in their favour. The progress of the 
Evangelical movement had called forth a large 
number of preachers whose zeal considerably ex- 
ceeded their education. In 1809 Lord Sidmouth 

1 The Monthly Repository, for example, founded in 1806. gave 
it unvarying support. In 1812 it circulated Butler's Address 
to Protestants. The same volume contains speeches by the pastors 
of Lewin's Mead, Bristol, the Rev. John Rowe, and Dr. Estlin, 
designed for delivery at a meeting in the city, where Mr. Rowe 
with difficulty secured a hearing, and Dr. Estlin was not allowed 
to speak. Belsham preached for it in 181 3, Fast Day, March 10, 
saying that his feelings were more than usually interested by the 
consciousness of being himself a member of the only Christian 
sect still proscribed by pains and penalties. 

86 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv 

moved for a return of licences granted to Dissenting 
ministers in the dioceses of England and Wales 
since 1780. The return was ordered since 1760, 
and the facts which it disclosed excited anger and 
alarm. In the county of Middlesex, for example, 
in 285 licences the words ' Dissenting Minister, 
Teacher, Preacher, Gospel,' were misspelt by the 
applicants who signed the roUs in eighteen different 
ways.^ The greater number of these, doubtless, 
belonged to the Methodist bodies ; and the clergy 
who clamoured for restrictive legislation, declared 
that their own labours were defeated, and the 
people were taught to despise the Church catechism. 
Lord Sidmouth's bill, introduced in 1811, was 
designed to regulate the qualifications of Non- 
conformist ministers. It aroused the immediate 
apprehension of almost all the friends of reHgious 
liberty.^ Mr. William Smith, now member for 
Norwich, and chairman of the Deputies appointed 
to protect the civil rights of Dissenters, ^ was strongly 
opposed to it. Meetings were held ; petitions poured 
in ; the Government, on the second reading of the 
bill in the House of Lords, declined to support it, — 
and the measure was lost. The Nonconformists 
took advantage of their newly awakened enthusiasm, 
and pressed for the repeal of the Conventicle and 
Five-MUe Acts. On May nth, 1812, Mr. Aspland 
and two other gentlemen had a satisfactory interview 
with the Prime Minister, Mr. Perceval ; two hours 

^Memoirs of Robert Aspland, by R. Brook Aspland, p. 260. 

2 Mr. Belsham gave Lord Sidmouth a qualified support. 

3 This body had been constituted in 1732. See below, § iii. 


afterwards he was shot on entering the House of 
Commons.^ The catastrophe did not arrest the 
movement. Lord Liverpool, who succeeded to the 
Premiership, introduced an Act before the close of 
the session, abolishing the obnoxious statutes, 
though licences were stiU required for both preachers 
and places of worship, and not more than twenty 
might meet in an unlicensed place. The bill passed 
both Houses without opposition. In the next year, 
1813, Mr. William Smith succeeded in obtaining 
the royal assent to An Act to relieve Persons who 
impugn the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity from certain 
Penalties.^ Mr. Smith had been the friend of Fox, 
Priestley, and Gilbert Wakefield ; he was united in 
' almost brotherly love ' with William Wilberforce, 
Granville Sharpe, and Thomas Clarkson. ' Of all 
their feUow-labourers,' afterwards wrote the his- 
torian of the Clapham sect, ' there was none more 
devoted to their cause, or whom they more entirely 
trusted. They, indeed, were all to a man homo- 
ousians, and he a disciple of Belsham. But they 
judged that many an erroneous opinion respecting 
the Redeemer's person would not deprive of his 
gracious approbation, and ought not to exclude 
from their own affectionate regards, a man in whom 
they daily saw a transcript, however imperfect, 
of the Redeemer's mercy and beneficence.'* 

1 Memoirs of Aspland, p. 272. 

2 Belsham, preaching upon it at Essex St., July 25, said ' The 
whole has the appearance of a wonderful and delightful vision.' 

3 Sir James Stephen, Essays in Eccl. Biogr., 4th ed., i860, 
p. 544. Mr. Smith remained member for Norwich till 1830, 
and must have been often thrown into close relations with the 
Mai'tineau and Taylor families. 

88 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

Forty years after Mr. Smith had acted as teller 
in the unsuccessful division on Mr. Beaufoy's motion 
in 1787, he was still vigilant in the same cause. 
Early in 1827 the newly formed British and Foreign 
Unitarian Association^ addressed a letter to the 
Committee of the Deputies, urging them to convene 
a general meeting of the bodies of Protestant Dis- 
senters in London, for the purpose of bringing the 
repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts before the 
pubhc. Over this meeting Mr. Smith presided. 
By his help a conference with members of both 
Houses of Parliament was held on April 6th. ^ 
Lord John Russell willingly took up the cause. A 
united Committee was formed — to which, however, 
the Society of Friends, the Wesleyan Methodist 
Conference, and the Presb5d:ery of the Scottish 
Church, would send no delegates — and the agitation 
was begun. Mr. Edgar Taylor* prepared a ' State- 
ment of the Case,' which was carried within the 
covers of the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews 
into college halls and libraries, the country seats 
of the landowners, the rectories of the clergy. 
Resolutions were passed and petitions signed ;* 
the cause survived the catastrophe of Canning's 
death on Aug. 8th ; and on Feb. 26th, 1828, Lord 
John Russell moved in the House of Commons that 
there should be a Committee of the whole House 
to consider the Acts. The result was an Act aboUsh- 

1 Founded in 1825 ; see below, § iii. 

* Memoirs of Aspland, p. 468. A second Conference took place 
on May 23, Monthly Repository, 1827, p. 450. 

3 Great grandson of Dr. John Taylor, of Norwich : ante, p. 3. 

* See ante, pp. 56, $9- 


ing the sacramental tests, which some of the Bishops 
supported, and the Duke of Wellington was ready 
to accept. Lord Eldon opposed it to the last. The 
royal assent was given on May 9th, and the Duke 
of Sussex presided at a dinner to celebrate the victory. 
It was the only occasion when a son and brother 
of kings proposed as a toast ' The Protestant Dis- 
senting Ministers, the worthy successors of the 
ever-memorable Two Thousand who sacrificed 
interest to conscience.'^ 

A few days after this celebration a meeting was 
held at the town house of the Duke of Norfolk. 
Catholics of old English families mingled with well- 
known Jews of still more ancient pedigree, and 
Unitarians like Robert Aspland, John Bowring, 
and W. J. Fox. The immediate subject for dis- 
cussion was the expediency of forming an association 
for the advancement of religious liberty. As the 
year wore away, it became apparent that the question 
was rapidly ripening. Lord John Russell wrote 
to Mr. Aspland suggesting that congregations should 
petition ' for the removal of all remaining oaths 
which require a declaration of religious opinion 
as a quaUfication for the enjoyment of civil rights.' ^ 
The Unitarian congregations throughout the king- 
dom were recommended by their Association to ask 
Parliament for the abolition of all religious penalties 
and civil disabilities. A small minority of the 
London Dissenting ministers thought it needful 
to oppose the emancipation of the Catholics from 

^ The Rev. Robert Aspland replied : Memoirs, p. 482. 
2 Memoirs of Robert Aspland, p. 491. 

go RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv. 

the restraints which had just been broken for theni- 
selves. But the great body of the Nonconformists 
overcame their rehgious scruples in favour of 
political justice. The measure was introduced into 
the House of Commons by Mr. Peel on the 5th of 
March, 1829, and on April 13th a reluctant assent 
was extracted from the Crown. It was amid the 
struggles thus consummated that James Martineau 
had imbibed from Dr. Lant Carpenter his ' first 
and last true love of the principles of rehgious 


In the movement which has just been briefly 
described, the chief parts were played by the Church 
on the one hand, and the ' Three Denominations ' 
on the other. These ' Three Denominations,' Pres- 
byterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, were 
the historic representatives of Nonconformity. They 
were the heirs of the men who had secured the 
Toleration Act of 1689, before Wesley had founded 
Methodism, or the Society of Friends had produced 
its quiet ranks of philanthropists. Ever since thg 
accession of Queen Anne, the ministers of the Three 
Denominations residing within ten miles of London 
and Westminster had been accustomed to act 
together ; and the small annual bounty from the 

^ Ante, p. 18. On June 25, 1829, the usual dinner of the 
friends of Manchester College, York, took place at the close of 
the academic year, when Mr. Boothman, a Roman Catholic 
gentleman, ' alluded with much eloquence and feeling to the 
measures then in progress through Parliament for the relief 
of His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects.' Monthly Repository, 
1829, p. 583. 


Government known as the Regium Donum was 
distributed through their agency.^ In 1732 a 
further organisation was created out of their Churches 
to take action in matters affecting their civil rights, 
by means of an assembly constituted out of two 
deputies from each congregation. ^ The larger 
national organisations of modern times had not 
yet been created.^ In the course of the eighteenth 
century changes of thought carried the Presby- 
terians in the direction of Unitarianism, while the 
Congregationalists and Baptists were powerfully 
affected by the great Evangelical revival. The 
Baptists were the first actually to enter the mis- 
sionary field. In 1791 William Carey, who had 
acquired at his shoemaker's bench considerable 
knowledge of several languages, was already urging 
his hearers to ' expect great things from God,' 
and ' attempt great things for God.' At Kettering 
in October, 1792, twelve ministers and one la5mian 
formed the Baptist Missionary Society, and started 
with subscriptions amounting to £13 2s. 6d. The 
next year Carey and Thomas sailed for India, and 
began the labours which have since spread all 
round the globe. The Congregationalists were not 

^ They were known as ' the General Body of Protestant Dissent- 
ing Ministers of London.' For the Regium Donum cp. p. 77. 

2 The relative strength of the three groups may be estimated 
from contemporary figures ; 

Pre9byt«rian. Con^egational. Baptiat. 

Ministers 74 49 45 

Meetings 54 37 26 

3 Under the danger of Lord Sidmouth's Bill a ' Protestant 
Society for the Protection of ReUgious Liberty ' was formed 
in 181 1. The Baptist Union was founded in 1813 : the Congre- 
gational Union in 1832. 

92 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

long behind. David Bogue, preaching at Salters' 
HaU in 1792, pleaded that ' the field is the world.' 
The appeal went out to the Congregational churches 
in 1794, and in 1795 the London Missionary Society 
was established. Before the century expired, the 
Church Missionary Society was founded in 1799 : 
but the extension of the episcopate was slow. 
Not till 1814 was the first diocese created across the 
seas, when the Bishop of Calcutta was consecrated. 
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Manners Sutton, 
proposing his health after the ceremony, concluded 
by sa5dng — ' Remember, my Lord Bishop, that 
your Primate on the day of your consecration 
defined your duty for you ; — that duty is to put 
down enthusiasm and to preach the Gospel.'^ 

The political opposition between the Church and 
orthodox Nonconformity did not at aU preclude 
common action on Evangelical principles, as in the 
Rehgious Tract Society (1799) and the Bible Society 
(1804). In the philanthropies which were the glory 
of Evangehcahsm, Churchmen and Nonconformists 
could work side by side. Differences, indeed, 
might arise over education,^ but, in the absence 
of a definite theory of the Church, clergymen some- 

1 A. H. Hore, The Church in England from William III. to 
Victoria, vol. ii. p. 239. ' Enthusijism ' was of course used in 
the contemporary sense of fanaticism. Hartley defines it as 
' a mistaken Persuasion in any Person that he is a peculiar 
Favourite with God ; and that he receives supernatural Marks 
thereof,' Observations on Man, 1749, part i. p. 490. Priestley 
pleads that the character of Jesus proves that he was not an 
enthusiast or an impostor ; and apologists were anxious to show 
that the apostles were not enthusiasts. Cp. Hartley, op. cit., 
vol. ii. p. 187. 

2 See the account of Mr. Brougham's Bill, below, § iii. 


times adopted the dissenting ministry or encouraged 
their converts to do so. Moreover the Noncon- 
formists enjoyed a freedom which the EstabUshment 
only gained with difficulty. They could enter any 
parish, and, by pa5dng sixpence, obtain a licence 
and open a place of worship. To build a Church, 
however, was a very complicated matter : for 
the subdivision of a parish required an act of Parha- 
ment. Meantime, under new industrial influences 
the towns were growing rapidly. To meet this 
expansion the Church could do nothing. During 
the long metropolitan episcopate of Dr. Porteus 
(1787-1808) not one new Church was opened in 
London.^ Between 1801 and 1820 only ninety-six 
were built in the whole country.^ On the other 
hand in the first twelve years of the century the 
number of annual licences for the erection of dissent- 
ing places of worship averaged 518.^ At length in 
1818 the Incorporated Church Building Society 
was formed, and the government carried a bill 
through Parliament appropriating the huge sum 
of one million sterling for its objects. Lord 
Liverpool frankly stating in the House of Lords 

1 The Bishops understood their duties differently in those 
days. When Dr. Porteus was once asked to preach a certain 
charity sermon, he excused himself on the ground that he only 
gave one a year, and the one that year was bespoken. Hore, 
vol. ii. p. 202. 

2 Hore, ii. p. 222. 

* The statistics of the Quarterly Review, vol. x. p. 54 (Oct., 
1813) really start from 1799. During the years 1760-1774 the 
average was only 90 per annum. In 1881 parishes, containing 
a population of nearly 5 millions, there were 2,553 churches and 
chapels capable of accommodating 1,856,000: the places of 
dissenting worship numbered 3,438. 

94 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv 

that the purpose of the measure was to ' remove 

A Church thus stagnant was unresponsive to 
the appeail of clearer knowledge or wider thought. 
Its opposition to the CathoMc claims thrust it back 
upon the Bible, and the doctrine of inspiration in 
its most rigid forms was common alike to the theology 
of the Establishment and of Evangehcal Dissent. 
When Dr. Marsh of Cambridge, who had studied 
at Gottingen, pubhshed in 1801 a dissertation on 
the origin and composition of the First Three 
Gospels, as the sequel of a translation of the Intro- 
duction to the New Testament by Michaehs, the 
Bishop of Oxford, Dr. Randolph, directed an anony- 
mous pamphlet against his researches, which he 
censured as ' derogating from the character of the 
sacred books, and injurious to Christianity as 
fostering a spirit of scepticism.' There were no 
doubt prelates of scholarly tastes as weU as of ample 
revenues ; there was learning, of a kind, as well as 
pomp and dignity, upon the episcopal bench. But 
over the whole Church there was, in the eyes of 
its critics, a taint of worldliness. Vast endowments 
enabled the more highly placed clergy to accumulate 
large fortunes ; while the system of pluralities de- 
graded the clerical office, and often led to gross 
neglect both of the fabrics and of the appointed 
services. Mr. Gladstone recorded in 1874 with 

'^ May 15, Parliamentary Debates, voL xxxviii. p. 710. An 
amusing description of a local effort for this laudable end was 
appended by Mr. Martineau many years later to his striking 
essay on 'Distinctive Types of Christianity' (1854), founded, 
doubtless on a reminiscence of his college days. Studies of Chris- 
tianity, 1858, p. 28. 


emphatic words his impressions of the Church before 
the great Anglican revival. He declared the state 
of things 'dishonouring to Christianity, disgraceful 
to the nation ; disgraceful most of all to that much- 
vaunted religious sentiment of the English public, 
which in impenetrable somnolence endured it, and 
resented all interference with it ' : ' our services 
were probably without a parallel in the world for 
their debasement.'^ Even a Brahmin or a Buddhist 
would have been shocked at their degradation : 
' they could hardly have been endured had not the 
faculty of taste, and the perception of the seemly 
or unseemly, been as dead as the spirit of devotion.' 
What Dr. Hook observed in the parish Church at 
Leeds as late as 1837 — the surplices in rags and the 
service books in tatters, — the churchwardens piling 
their hats and coats upon the holy table at a vestry 
meeting, or even sitting upon it — was probably no 
exaggeration of the average neglect or irreverence.** 
In the middle of the third decade, however, 
fresh influences began to work, and the preparation 
for a new era was laid. Many minds were dissatis- 
fied with the lethargy around them, and were feeling 
after something more nourishing than commonplaces 
which had grown stale by repetition. At Cambridge 
the dominant influence was still that of Charles 
Simeon ; the impulses which were to shape the 

1 ' The Church of England and Ritualism,' Contemporary 
Review, Oct., 1874, reprinted in Gleanings, vol. vi. pp. 118, 119. 

* The abuses of the diocese of Norwich, during Martineau's 
youth, under the administration of ' the good Bishop Bathurst,' 
1805-1837, are described in the Memoirs of Edward and Catherine 
Stanley (1879), p. 33. 

96 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv 

immediate future were to proceed from Oxford. 
The first definite utterance which taught John 
Henry Newman his theory of the Church, was heard 
in the Letters on the Church, by an EpiscopaUan, 1826. 
They owed their thought if not their precise form 
to Dr. Whately.^ Here was set forth ' the conception 
of an organised body, introduced into the world by 
Christ himself, endowed with definite spiritual 
powers and no other, and, whether connected with 
the State or not, having an independent existence 
and inalienable claims, with its own objects and 
laws, with its own moral standard and spirit and 
character.'^ Newman was not yet at St. Mary's ; 
but he had already preached the sermon ' Holiness 
necessary for future Blessedness,' which opens the 
long series of his pulpit teachings. A reaction 
against indifference and slackness was at hand. 
In a spirit which was to move England, Newman 
began to demand that life should conform to a lofty 
moral rule, and conduct be fashioned on the prin- 
ciples of Gospel austerity. Nor was other aid 
wanting. The Christian Year appeared in 1827 ; 
and the gentle verse of Keble appealed to thousands 
who knew nothing of theology, but were ready to 
be led back by graces of imaginative piety to the 
offices of the Church. 

From a different side the Evangelical assumptions 
were assailed by the first efforts of historical enquiry. 
The fulfilment of prophecy was a favourite Bibhcal 
theme. To this Alexander Keith consecrated his 

1 Newman, Apologia, chap. I. 
* R. W. Church, The Oxford Movement, p. 5 


first work in 1823^ ; five years later he elaborated 
the argument in a well-known treatise which traced 
the dealings of Providence down to the nineteenth 
century, and justified American slavery by the 
curse pronounced on Ham." But John Davison, 
who became Fellow of Oriel in 1800, had already 
laid stress on the moral elements of prophecy, 
and the progressive character of revelation, in his 
Warburton Lecture in 1824.^ German learning, 
indeed, was still dreaded. Thirlwall issued anony- 
mously in 1825 a- translation of Schleiermacher's 
Essay on Luke, in the preface to which he treated 
the doctrine of verbal inspiration as already exploded, 
and the opening chapters of the Third Gospel as 
poetical. English theology, however, was not yet 
ripe for such a conclusion. A young Oxford scholar 
who had been recommended by the Regius professor 
of Divinity, Dr. Lloyd, to learn some German, 
spent two years at Gottingen, Berlin, and Bonn, 
in diligent study both of the Semitic languages and 
of the different schools of religious and philosophical 
thought. But the treatise in which Pusey embodied 
his results* revealed so considerable a departure 
from Evangelical standards that the alarm was 
raised ; and both the first book and its sequel 
two years later were ultimately withdrawn. An- 

1 Sketch of the Evidence from Prophecy. 

2 Evidence for the Truth of the Christian Religion derived from 
the Literal Fulfilment of Prophecy. This book which reached its 
fortieth edition in 1873, has now become extinct. 

3 Discourses on Prophecy, in which are considered its Structure, 
Use, and Inspiration. 

4 Historical Inquiry into the Causes of the Rationalist Character 
lately predominant in the Theology of Germany, 1828. 

98 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [CH. iv 

other student of the past, poet and Sanskritist to 
boot, undertook to relate the History of the Jews 
for the ' Family Library ' of Mr. Murray. Mibnan 
portrayed the heroes of Genesis as he conceived 
them to have actually lived. Abraham became an 
Eastern sheikh. The co-operation of natural causes 
was admitted in the plagues of Egypt, and the 
passage of the Red Sea. The story of the wanderings 
was not a contemporary record ; and as the actued 
events receded further and further from view, 
allegory and imagination diffused over them a haze 
of poetic glory. Such treatment might be fit enough 
for Roman legend ; it was intolerable in the sphere 
of Revelation. The sale of the book was stopped ; 
and the issue of the Family Library came to an end. 
Here and there were minds of sufficient native 
vigour to shrink from no consequences to which 
criticism might lead. In August, 1828, Arnold 
went to Rugby as head-master. For years he had 
thought about questions of the interpretation of 
Scripture and church-reform, and with unfaUing 
courage he flung out his thoughts like challenges.^ 
To Whately's theory of an organic body foimded 
by Christ and entrusted with certain definite powers, 
the exercise of which must be duly regulated, Arnold 
opposed the idea of the societas or fellowship of 
Christians which was independent of any central 
government. In any particular Church the con- 
stitution was largely the result of political accident j^ 
and conformity and nonconformity were matters 

* In his article ' Letters of an Episcopalian.' Edinburgh Review, 
Sept., 1826. 

'^ Letter to Dr. Hawkins, 1830. 


of civil law. His principles of comprehension drew 
the line, indeed, at Unitarians who could not worship 
Christ. But even to these, he wrote to William 
Smith, the late member for Norwich,^ he would not 
deny the Christian name, if they truly loved Jesus. 
No particular organisation, therefore, could claim 
any divine authority. The office of teacher should 
be properly guarded, but carried with it no specific 
commission ; there were sacraments through which 
the grace of God flowed in on man, but these were 
not the property of a priesthood, nor even limited 
to the two which had been recommended or enjoined 
by Christ. For Arnold there was a sense in which 
the Church and the State were ideally the same 
persons organised for different ends. To make 
this ideal actual he strove ardently to bring the 
Dissenters in. The long resistance which the Church 
had offered to the claims of nonconformists, Pro- 
testant or Catholic, for relief from penal disabilities, 
and the votes of the Bishops against Parliamentary 
reform, aroused a storm of angry criticism. Her 
wealth, her antiquated and rigid forms, her monopo- 
lies, and her indifference to popular welfare while 
seeking popular support, drew down fierce denuncia- 
tions. ' The Church, as it now stands,' Arnold wrote 
to the Rev. J. E. Tyler, June id, 1832, ' no human 
power can save.' To Mr. W. K. Hamilton, a few 
months later, Jan. 15, 1833, he explains the object 
of his pamphlet. 

I have been writing on Church Reform, and urging an union 
with the Dissenters as the only thing that can procure us the 

1 March 9, 1833. See ante, p. 86. 

100 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iy 

blessing of an established Christianity ; for the Dissenters are 
strong enough to turn the scale either for an establishment or 
against one ; and at present they are leagued with the anti- 
christian party against one, and will destroy it utterly if they are 
not taken into the camp in the defence of it. And if we sacrifice 
that phantom Uniformity, which has been our curse ever since 
the Reformation, I am fully persuaded that an union might be 
effected without difficulty.^ 

How far were these hopes to be realised ? And 
what response could a Unitarian like James Mar- 
tineau make to such an appeal ? How profoundly 
he, too, was affected by the idea of a federation 
between the EpiscopaUan and other churches in 
this country, will appear in the sequel. 


Separated from the Church on doctrinal grotmds, 
and shortly to be discharged from the aUiance of 
the Three Denominations, ^ were the Unitarians. 
These were the heirs of Locke in theology, and the 
owners, as they supposed, of chapels of Presbyterian 
foundation all over the country. The story of these 
chapels, which wholly transformed James Mar- 
tineau's views of the right basis of religious organisa- 
tion, will be told in a subsequent chapter.^ It must 
sufl&ce here to indicate the characteristics of their 

In his essay on the ' Reasonableness of Christ- 
ianity ' Locke had avoided the higher questions 

1 On the other hand the author of the Letters on the Church 
declared that ' the connexion such as it now subsists, between the 
State and the Church . . is not only in principle unjustifiable, 
but is, in every point, inexpedient for both parties.' p. 157, 

2 See chap. VII. 3 See chap. VII. 


of Christology. He was ready to give the Christian 
name to all who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, 
without imposing on them any particular interpre- 
tation of his person. He was neither Calvinist, 
like the majority of contemporary Presbyterians, 
nor Athanasian. On the doctrines of the Trinity 
and the Incarnation he maintained a careful reserve. 
He sometimes disowned the name Socinian, but he 
repeatedly quoted Biddle. The Messianic con- 
ception of Jesus was historical, not metaphysical ; 
and it rested on two main supports, the fulfilment 
of prophecy, and the evidence of miracles. These 
were sufficient to prove Jesus to be a teacher com- 
missioned from on high ; and were the external 
guarantees of Revelation. This line of thought, 
coupled with the Presbyterian principle of the 
sufficiency of Scripture and the rejection of all 
human creeds, guided the way to a gradual theo- 
logical change. Through Arianism the tenants of 
many of the Presbyterian chapels gradually found 
their way to Unitarian thought. But the funda- 
mental conception of Revelation remained. Uni- 
tarianism was true because it was the doctrine of 
the New Testament. Trinitarianism would be true, 
if it could be proved from the same supernatural 
source. It was not rejected because it was in- 
comprehensible, but because it could not be found 
in Scripture. 

' No UnitMian that I know or have read of,' wrote Theophilus 
Lindsey,! ' could ever object to any part of a divine revelation, 
because it was beyond his comprehension. Let me know but 
clearly that God has signified his mind and will ; and then, 
let the subject be ever so unfathomable by me, I will receive and 

1 Examination 0/ Mr. Robinson's Plea, preface, p. 24. 

102 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

believe it ; because no better reason can possibly be given for 
anything, than that God has said it.''- 

The theology of Manchester College, York, rested 

on the same foundation. Its Principal, the Rev. 

C. Wellbeloved, declared in his controversy with 

Archdeacon Wrangham^: — 

I adopt the common language of Unitarians when I say. Con- 
vince us that any tenet is authorised by the Bible, from that 
moment we receive it. Prove any doctrine to be a doctrine of 
Christ, emanating from that wisdom which was from above, 
and we take it for our own, and no power on earth shall wrest it 
JErom us.s 

It was natural that Mr. Wellbeloved's pupils 
should start from the same position. At his ordina- 
tion in the Protestant Dissenting Chapel, Mosley 
Street, Manchester, in 1821, the Rev. John James 
Tayler declared that the Christian minister ' must 
discard from his mind all bigoted attachment 
to human formularies of faith, and make the Scrip- 
tures alone as containing the revealed will of the 
Deity the subject of his constant study and medita- 
tion, and the sole ground of his exhortations and 
warnings. Whatever the Scriptures teach as 
indubitably the word of God, it is his bounden duty 
to recommend and enforce.' With similar emphasis 

1 Belsham, Letters upon Arianism, 1808, said in a similar strain, 
p. 81 : ' If a well attested revelation distinctly teaches that the 
world was made and is governed by delegated power, and that 
Jesus of Nazareth is the person to whom that power was en- 
trusted, I must bow to its authority, and admit the fact.' 

2 Three Letters, 1823, p. 51. 

3 Compare Three Additional Letters, 1824, p. 151. 'If Jesus 
had received commandment from the Father to teach it [the 
doctrine of the Trinity] to his disciples, and had charged them to 
publish it to the world, I should deem it incumbent on me, at the 
command of God, to lay prostrate the understanding derived from 
his inspiration, and on this subject to renounce the use of that 
reason which he has made the glory of my frame.' 


under similar circumstances did James Martineau 
affirm in 1828 — ' When Jesus commands, I would 
listen as to a voice from heaven ; when he instructs, 
I would treasure up his teachings as the words of 
everlasting truth ; . . . . when he promises, I would 
trust to his assurances as to an oracle of destiny.'^ 

The special promise thus bequeathed was that of 
the life hereafter and the judgment before Christ's 

' To believe in the Christian revelation,' asserted Mr. Belsham, 
' is to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a teacher commissioned 
by God to reveal the doctrine of a future Ufe, in which virtue shall 
find a correspondent reward and vice shall suffer condign punish- 
ment ; and that of this commission he gave satisfactory evidence 
by his resurrection from the dead. '2 

This expectation played a great part in the 
religious life of Unitarians, as its share in their 
hymnody sufficiently proves. It was not injured 
by the adoption of the current critical view of the 
composition of the Pentateuch,^ or by the announce- 
ment that the Mosaic cosmogony could not be 
harmonised with modem science.* And it had the 
advantage of concihating the language of Scripture 
with the current philosophy of Priestley, which 
denied the existence of a separate soul and cheer- 
fully awaited the resurrection after an indefinite 
interval of unconsciousness.^ Unitarian thought was 

^ See the whole passage already quoted, chap. III. p. 65 . 
^A Summary View of the Evidence and Practical Importance 
of the Christian Revelation, 1807, p. 5. 

* Ibid. p. 116. 

* Belsham, Reflections on the History of Creation in the Book 
of Genesis, 1821, p. 26. 

° See three sermons on the ' State of the Dead ' by Rev. T. 
Kenrick, pubUshed in 1805, and compare the protest of the 
reviewer in the Monthly Repository. 

104 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [CH. iv 

not, indeed, at one upon this theme. If it be true, 
as Coleridge said, that every man is bom a Platonist 
or an Aristotehan,* there is no difficulty in distri- 
buting the parts between Priestley and Price. The 
exquisite little verse of Mrs. Barbauld, moreover, 
shows that Priestley had not full possession of 
the field.2 The prominence of the doctrine, how- 
ever, imder both phases, led to earnest protests 
against ' the Brief Observations addressed to Sceptics 
and Unitarians ' in Wilberforce's Practical Review, 
and vehement repudiation of his description of 
Unitarianism (which has pointed so many denimcia- 
tions ever since) as ' a sort of half-way house ' 
between nominal orthodoxy and infidelity.^ Mrs. 
Piozzi, too, in a treatise on British Synonymy, 
under the head of ' Infidehty, Atheism, Deism, 
and Socinianism,' vaguely contrived to include Deism 
as ' the creed of unbelief, synonimous to Socinianism, 
weU understood.'* Dr. Joshua Toulmin, preaching 
at Tiverton in 1797 on ' the Injustice of classing 
Unitarians with Deists and Infidels,' dwells fervently 

1 Table Talk, July 3, 1830. He added, ' I do not think it 
possible that any one bom an Aristotelian can become a Platonist ; 
and I am sure no bom Platonist can ever change into an Aristo- 
telian.' But the Platonist might, like Martiaeau, be brought 
up in the -wrong school, and spend the rest of his life in rectilymg 
the error. 

* ' Soul, we've been long together.' 

8 Chap. VII. I ill. p. 475 (ed. 1797). 

■•Vol. i. p. 309 ; a postscript, p. 310, adds ' Since the above 
was written, I've been told, that Socinians only deny the divinity 
of Christ, while Deists doubt even his mission. This certainly 
does bring the followers of Socinus at least as near to the true 
Christian Church, as are the rational and orthodox followers 
of Mahomet ; for he too acknowledged the Son of Mary as a 
prophet.' Such were the amenities of amateur theology. 


on the finn expectation of a righteous and solemn 
judgment, and the assured hope of eternal life, 
and asks ' Shall we, then, be classed with Deists 
and infidels ? Shall we be represented as disaffected 
to the true character and government of God ? 
Shall we be stigmatised as profane and scornful 
unbelievers ? ' The reproach cut deep. More than 
twenty years later^ Mr. W. J. Fox discoursed of 
' the Duties of Christians towards Deists,' on occasion 
of the prosecution of Mr. Carlile for the republication 
of Paine's Age of Reason. After enumerating three 
points common to Unitarians and other Christians 
in which they differed from Deists,^ he added as a 
fourth, distinguishing Unitarians from other Christ- 
ians, that they rested ' the hope of future existence 
upon the doctrine of the Resurrection, and not upon 
the Orthodox and Deistical notion of the natural 
immortality of the soul.'' 

Tightly was the cordon of revelation drawn 
around the Bible. At Manchester College Mr. 
Wellbeloved might surrender the prophecies to the 
interpretation of history, but the more stress fell 
on the commission of Jesus. On the other hand 
he led his students on brief excursions through the 
natural theologies of Greece and Rome, with restilts 
that were not always expected. His most distin- 

1 Oct. 24, 1 8 19. 

* (i) That a series of revelations confirmed by miracles has 
been made by God to mankind, (ii) That the Old and New 
Testaments contain an authentic account of those revelations, 
(iii) That Jesus had a divine commission, that he rose from the 
dead, and that he will come again to judge the world. — Of 
course. Deists here are named in the historico-theological sense, 
not the philosophical. 

I06 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. IV 

guished pupil, pleading after his death for ' Biblical 
Studies and Something More,' thus records the 
emotions kindled by the wider outlook.^ 

I well remember (perhaps it is only a personal confession 
which I make) the half guilty feeling with which, in young and 
fervent days, I found myself surprised into passionate admiration 
by the story of Socrates, and taken captive by words that seemed 
to me of unspeakable reUgious depth in Plato, or even in Cicero 
and Seneca. I accused myself of an unchristian perversity, — 
a want of Evangelical simplicity and humbleness, — -because often 
Greek and Roman history stirred the tides within me more than 
the image of Galilean apostles, — because the struggle for Hellenic 
freedom appeared more sacred than the conquest of idolatrous 
Canaan, and Leonidas nobler than Gideon, — because, read what 
I might in favour of a general resurrection in the body, the 
Phaedon tempted me to hope rather for the immortality of the 

Within the limits of Revelation, however, consider- 
able divergencies might exist side by side. Opinions 
might vary on the historical value of the narratives 
of the miraculous conception ; they might vary no 
less on the person of Jesus — did he or did he not 
pre-exist ? — was he to be interpreted after the 
Arian or the humanitarian manner ? In this respect, 
however, there was a marked divergence between 
the older Presbyterians and the newer Unitarianism. 
Those who had been bred in the venerable traditions 
of their ancient meeting-houses, were less disposed 
to emphasize their precise attitude. They were 
aware that they, like their predecessors, were passing 
through slow processes of doctrinal change ; they 
loved the old Scripture phrases with the interpreta- 
tions endeared by long use and wont ; and they did 
not care for the definitions rendered necessary by 
theological polemics. Many of the ministers were 

1 1858, Essays, iv. 69. 


tinged more or less with Arianism,'- though they 
agreed upon two points ; that worship was due to 
God the Father only, and should not be offered to 
the pre-existent Son^ ; and that the death of Christ, 
whatever was its mysterious connexion with re- 
demption, had not produced any change in the 
Divine Being towards man. The activity of 
Priestley and Lindsey, however, and their successors 
Belshara and Aspland, laid a new stress on Unitarian 
doctrine. These eminent teachers had aU embraced 
their faith with ardour, and sacrificed for it various 
forms of ecclesiastical allegiance. They were, there- 
fore, all strong denominationalists. Priestley 
evidently thought it a recommendation of his 
philosophy that it was equally unfavourable to 
the Catholic view of purgatory and the worship 
of the dead, and to the orthodox or even the Arian 
h5rpothesis of Christ's prior and exalted being.* 
Belsham was strenuous in his opposition to Arianism, 
and published a series of severe strictures on its 
defence by Mr. Benjamin Carpenter.* AU, indeed, 
were agreed in repudiating subscription to any articles 
of faith. But in the new organisations which arose 
under their influence, a fresh note of dogmatic 
stringency was heard. When the foundation stone 

1 The leader in London was Dr. Abraham Rees, of the Chapel 
in the Old Jewry, editor of the well known Encyclopaedia. 

2 Belsham called them ' low Arians.' Cp. note to Toulmin's 
Sermon to the Southern Unitarian Society, Portsmouth, 1802, 
The Doctrine of the Scriptures concerning the Unity of God and the 
Character of Jesus Christ. 

^A Free Discussion of the Doctrines of Materialism, 177S ; 
Works, vol. iv. pp. 105, 81. 
* Letters upon Arianism, 1808. 

I08 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

of the New Gravel Pit Meeting at Hackney weis laid 
in 1809, Mr. Aspland took pleasure in declaring — 
' Your belief is, with very few exceptions, and those 
comparatively unimportant, expressed in that xm- 
questionably ancient, but certainly not apostolic, 
S5rmbol of faith, called the Apostles' Creed, the 
simplest and best composition of the kind, next to 
the confession of the Messiahship of Jesus in the 
New Testament, which was ever framed.'^ There 
was a certain appeal to authority in the words 
' You hold professedly, and as a body, no articles 
of faith which are not, and have not been always, 
held by the universal church.' Quite a different 
spirit breathed through the caution and reserve 
of John James Tayler's ordination utterance, ' I 
do declare it to be my firm belief, so far as I have 
hitherto enquired, that Jesus Christ was expressly 
commissioned by God to reform and instruct the 
world.' This was not only the result of a difference 
of personal temperament, it implied also a contrast 
of theological and ecclesiastical attitude. To the 
man of Presbyterian descent and training there were 
open questions, which the ardent and convinced 
Unitarian regarded as settled. ' We think,' remarked 
the reviewer,^ ' that he has been too much alarmed 
at the idea of giving a " confession of faith." ' 

The organisations, accordingly, which belonged 
to Martineau's youth, were all established on 
a well-defined Unitarian basis. The ' Unitarian 
Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and the 

1 Memoirs, p. 232. 
» Monthly Repository, 1832, p. 501. 


Practice of Virtue, by the Distribution of Books,' 
was founded in 1791. The plan was suggested by 
Thomas Belsham, who drew up the preamble to 
the rules.^ It was foimded on two principles, (i) 
that there is but One God, the sole Former, Supporter 
and Governor of the universe, the only proper object 
of religious worship, and (ii) that there is one 
Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ 
Jesus, who was commissioned by God to instruct 
men in their duty, and to reveal the doctrine of a 
future life.2 Other societies of the same sort 
followed in different parts of the kingdom, and in 
1805 preparations were made for a further step. 
The activity of the other denominations awakened 
Unitarian zeal ; a cry arose for more popular mis- 
sionary preaching ; and to provide men and means 
for this enterprise the ' Unitarian Fund ' was estab- 
lished in 1806. It did not at first secure unanimous 
support. There were some who feared that the 
Unitarian cause would be degraded, if they put 
themselves on a level with the Methodists.^ Mr. 
Belsham himself at first held aloof. But the 
important resolution of a General Meeting in 1806 
to issue a new translation of the New Testament 
enlisted his co-operation, and he took a chief share 

1 See his Memoirs of Theophilus Lindsay, pp. 226-236. 

2 A similar declaration was made by the Western Unitarian 
Society, founded in 1792. Both Societies declared certain 
opinions and practices to be unscriptural and idolatrous ; Mr. 
Belsham candidly admits that the latter epithet was offensive 
to many. It was at the first annual dinner of the parent Society, 
at the King's Head in the Poultry, in April, 1791, that the 
obnoxious toasts were drunk which so angered Burke : Memoirs 
of Lindsey, p. 231 ; cp. ante, p. 84. 

3 Memoirs of R. Aspland, p. 198. 

no RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

in the production of what was known as the Improved 
Version in 1808.^ Meantime the managers of the 
Fund proceeded to reopen closed chapels, to assist 
new congregations, and to send out missionaries 
to nearly every part of the kingdom. The demand 
for religious teachers of a more popular type soon 
exhausted the supply ; there was an immediate call 
for more men ; and steps were taken in 181 1 to give 
them the necessary training by estabhshing under 
the indefatigable direction of Mr. Aspland, a Uni- 
tarian Academy, carefuUy protected from compe- 
tition with the older CoUege at York.^ For seven 
years it did its modest service with the aid of tutors 
in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Mathematics ; it 
trained some earnest and devoted ministers ; but 
after a long struggle on insufficient means its doors 
were closed, and at the end of the session of 1818 
the students separated to return no more. 

The Unitarian Fund had lent its utmost aid 
to Mr. WUliam Smith in 1813 ; but there yet re- 
mained difficulties in the Unitarian's way. He was 
obUged, for instance, to be married at Church, 
imder religious sanctions in which he did not believe. 
When Lord Liverpool expressed the hope that 

1 For an account of this version by Mr. Belsham himself 
see his Memoir of Lindsey, pp. 349-359. The present writer has 
endeavoured to describe its place in the series of efforts culminat- 
ing in the Revised Version, in his lectures on The Bible in the 
Nineteenth Century, pp. 63-65. 

2 ' The name Unitarian,' says Mr. R. Brook Aspland, ' was 
given to the Academy, not for the purpose of pledging either 
its students or supporters to any particular system of faith, 
but because it expressed the leading opinion of those who in- 
terested themselves in its formation, and their expectation of 
its results.' Memoirs, p. 303. 


Unitarians would be satisfied with the Trinity bUl, 
Mr. Smith frankly warned him that the account of 
reparation was not yet closed : ' We shall not be 
satisfied while one disqualifying statute in matters 
of reUgion remains on the books.' To work out 
complete freedom, an ' Association for protecting 
the Civil Rights of Unitarians ' was formed in iSig.'- 
There were thus three distinct societies centred in 
London. Amalgamation soon became inevitable. | 
The Unitarian Fund and the Association for Civil 
Rights were merged in 1825 under the comprehensive 
name of the British and Foreign Unitarian Associa- 
tion ; and with this the Book Society was united 
in the following year. 

The foregoing recital has shown that Unitarians 
took their full share in the great struggle for civil 
and religious liberty.^ It is worth noticing, however, 
that neither then, nor since, were they united on 
the question of the support of religion by the civil 
power. If Milton had laid it down that ' a Common- 
wealth ought to be but as one huge Christian person- 
age,' Locke's maxim sub evangelio nulla prorsus 
est respublica Christiana led straight to the separation 
and independence of Church and State. Priestley's 
outspokenness provoked the denunciations of Burke, 

^ There were already disquieting symptoms that the right 
of Unitarians to the continued enjoyment of the endowments 
derived from their Presbyterian ancestors would be disputed. 
See below, chap. VII. 

'^ It is not a little remarkable that down to the second and 
third decades of the last century they still found it necessary 
to vindicate their right to organise their own worship. This 
was a survival of the earlier struggle when Burke had poured 
ridicule on Dr. Price for trying to improve on Nonconformity, 
by adding another to its sects. 

112 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

and he was led on from demands for reform to sug- 
gestions of complete disestablishment. Even Mrs. 
Barbauld wrote of the ' ill-assorted union.'^ Bel- 
sham, on the other hand, with a remarkable reversion 
from his theological rigidity to older Presbyterian 
theories of comprehension, dreamed of a national 
church where there should be ' no doctrinal test 
but the profession that Jesus Christ is a teacher 
come from God, that he died and rose again, and 
that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments 
contain every thing necessary to faith and practice.' 
He was even willing not only that ' pubhc teachers 
of religion should be supported out of the pubhc 
purse,' but that Christianity should ' occasionally 
lift her mitred front in courts and parhaments, 
that so there may be teachers of religion correspond- 
ing to the various gradations of civil society.'* 

The time was hardly propitious for such senti- 
ments. The protests of Nonconformity were gather- 
ing strength, and a signal instance was to be given of 
Church claims. Popular Education has always been 

1 still in an Address to the Opposers of the Repeal of the Corpora- 
tion and Test Acts, 1790, she had said, ' Nor need you apprehend 
from us the slightest danger to your own Establishment .... 
Your Church is in no danger because we are of a different Church : 
they may stand together to the end of time without interference. 
But it will be in great danger whenever it has within itself many 
who have thrown aside its doctrines, or even who do not embrace 
them in the simple and obvious sense.' Works, vol. ii. p. 368. 

* Three Sermons entitled Christianity Pleading for the Patronage 
of the Civil Power, but Protesting against the Aid of Penal Laws, 
1820. Mr. Crabb Robinson, Diary, voL ii. p. 128, reports a 
discussion at Mr. Belsham's, July 7, 18 19, when the host said 
' I think my Church ought to be established ; but as that cannot 
be, I would rather the AngUcan Church should be maintained," 
There was a Martineau among the guests, and Mr. John Kenrick 
was present, on his way to Germany. 


a thorny subject ; and when Mr. Brougham took it 
up, he did not divest it of its diificulties. The 
Unitarians had consistently been its promoters. 
Some of the older congregations had long had their 
own school-foundations.^ They had eagerly sup- 
ported Lancaster's work, and innumerable sermons 
had been preached for the general cause. As early 
as 1807 Mr. Whitbread asserted in Parliament 
that Government was bound to provide the people 
with sufficient means for education. After a 
Parliamentary enquiry, begun in 1818, Mr. 
Brougham brought in a bill in 1820 for estabUshing 
parish schools out of the rates. The schoolmasters 
were to be members of the Church of England ; the 
ratepayers were to choose them, but a veto was to 
be entrusted to the incumbent. The bishop, the 
dean, and the archdeacon, were to be visitors ; 
the scholars were to learn the Church catechism 
and attend the parish church, though a conscience 
clause exempted the children of Dissenting parents. 
The bill had been prepared in consultation with 
the Rev. William Shepherd, an eminent Unitarian 
minister, of Gateacre, near Liverpool, who appeared 
publicly as its defender. ^ Mr. Aspland ranged him- 
self vigorously with the opposition. The Protestant 
Society and the Ministers of the Three Denominations 
sent up petitions against the scheme ; fierce pam- 

1 Lewin's Mead, Bristol, for example, and Eustace St., Dublin. 
Mr. Martineau's zeal for this object will receive abundant ex- 
emplification hereafter. 

2 Memoirs of R. Aspland, p. 425. Mr. (afterwards Drj Shep- 
herd was the friend of William &oscoe of Liverpool, and author 
of a Life of Poggio Bracciolini, 1802. He also co-operated in 
Systematic Education with J. Joyce, and Lant Carpenter. 

114 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [CH. TV 

phlets were issued, to which Brougham replied in 
the Edinburgh ; and after the first reading of the 
bill in 1821 the scheme was dropped. 

The activity and influence of the Unitarians 
during James Martineau's youth were frequently 
recognised. Their energy was the consequence of 
religious principles which seem in retrospect difficult 
to conciliate with their prevailing philosophy. 
They were still imbued with the conceptions of the 
previous century which regarded Christianity as a 
system of truths whose reasonableness was the first 
thing to be proved. Confronted with the occasional 
excesses of the Evangelical movement, they shrank 
from what Isaac Taylor afterwards designated 
' enthusiastic perversions of the doctrine of divine 
influence.'^ They distrusted transitory excitements, 
doubted when they heard of visible displays of super- 
natural power, and felt a sort of shame at extra- 
ordinary turbulence of emotion, as if the privacy 
of the soul were violated. When it was proposed 
to send out missionary preachers, there were those 
who preferred the less aggressive method of circula- 
ting books. ' This mode of persuasion and conver- 
sion,' it was observed,^ is ' peculiarly congenial 
with the system in whose behalf it is used ; which 

1 Natural History of Enthusiasm, 1829, sect. iii. For a very 
careful statement see a sermon by Dr. Lant Carpenter On Divine 
Influences and Conversion, 1822, in which scripture, philosophy, 
and experience, are very curiously balanced. As an instance 
of the claims which it was intended to meet, he quotes an inscrip- 
tion from the tombstone of a profligate drunkard, who fell from 
his horse in a state of intoxication, and expired immediately : 
' Between the stirmp and the ground, 
I mercy sought, and mercy found.' 

' By an anonymous writer in the Monthly Repository, 1806, p. 40. 


is foimded not upon the moral and intuitive sense, 
not upon a frame of feelings, not upon preternatural 
communications and divine impressions, but upon 
argument and reason.' 

The t5rpe of religious life which emerged under 
this mood of thought was marked by calmness rather 
than fervour; it preferred tranquillity to raptures ; 
and found its strength in the daily walk of duty 
and faith. There were minds which were prepared 
to welcome Wordsworth, for had not Mrs. Barbauld 
written in her Address to the Deity — 

At thy felt presence all emotions cease, 
And my hushed spirit finds a sudden peace : 

Till all my sense is lost in infinite. 

And one vast object fills my aching sight. 

This note of mysticism is less rare in the Unitarian 
literature of this age than is commonly supposed. 
The mother of Frederick Denison Maurice did, indeed, 
complain to her husband of the lack of Unitarian 
works which would help to give her children serious 
impressions : ' I am driven to read books which 
continually introduce doctrines that I cannot dis- 
cover in the Scriptures, because I find so few Uni- 
tarian publications that make an impression on the 
heart, influencing it by forcible motives to right 
conduct.'^ It is quite true that the books which 
have moved the heart of Christendom, either have 
the ' weight of ages ' behind them, — an immemorial 
piety such as breathes in the Imitation of Christ, — - 
or disclose an intensity of personal experience like 
Pilgrim's Progress, These products of the spirit 

1 This was in 1816. Life of F. D. Maurice, vol. i. p. 24. 

Il6 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [cH. iv 

require an atmosphere in which to grow : and the 
atmosphere of the eighteenth century was not favour- 
able to them. When Dr. Lant Carpenter compiled 
a collection of daily prayers, he went back to Baxter, 
Matthew Henry, and Jeremy Taylor, beside Dodd- 
ridge, and ' the great Dr. Hartley.' But the 
children of famiUes in whom the devotional habit 
was cherished, were trained in the serious practice 
of self-examination. Corbet's Self-Employment in 
Secret among older works, and Shepherd's Thoughts 
preparative and persuasive to Private Devotion,'^ 
were favourite gifts ; and the young Martineau 
read Wilberforce and Hannah More in his bedroom 
at school. To Wilberforce Belsham pleaded that 
as ' Christianity sums up the whole of hmnan duty 
in the love of God and our neighbour,' and requires 
that all our time should be employed to the best 
account, and every action consecrated to God, 
so ' to a true Christian every day is a Sabbath, 
every place is a temple, and every act of life an act 
of devotion.'^ This constant dedication of all 
thought, desire, and will, to a heavenly service, 
produced a lowly reliance on divine support which 
lifted men above fear and querulousness. ' God 
has impressed me with the idea of trust and con- 
fidence,' wrote Mrs. Barbauld,* ' and my heart flies 
to him in danger ; of mercy to forgive, and I melt 
before him in penitence ; of bounty to bestow, and 
I ask of him all I want or wish for.' And Belsham, 

^ Published in 1823 and frequently afterwards : John Shepherd, 
1785-1879, was an Anabaptist (Diet, of Nat. Biogr.) 
2 Review of Wilberforce' s Treatise, etc. 1798, p. 18. 
' Thoughts on the Devotional Taste, 1775 : Works, vol. ii. p. 240. 


whose religion Dr. Arnold could not away with, 
breaks out — ' Such is the God of my faith and adora- 
tion, the God of nature and revelation, the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that God whose 
existence, attributes, and government, are the joy 
and confidence of every enlightened and virtuous 

The hero of this type of piety was undoubtedly 
Dr. Priestley. On May 21st, 1791, he preached at 
Dudley a sermon on Habitual Devotion, which served 
as a kind of text-book for the next generation.® 
He described the truly good man as living in the 
constant vision of him who is invisible : ' He sees 
God in everything, and he sees everything in God. 
He dwells in love, and thereby dwells in God, and 
God in him.'' The man who keeps up an habitual 
regard to God, ' has a kind of union with God, f eehng, 
in some measure, the same sentiments, and having 
the same views ' : such a life breeds courage, con- 
fidence, unworldliness : ' he will walk with God 
all the day long, and proceed in the path of his duty 
with a calm, and equal, a steady, and a persevering 
progress.' These sentiments were soon to be 
severely tested. Ere two months passed, on July 
14th, the Meeting-house in which he preached 
had been burned, his home wrecked, his library, his 
apparatus, and his papers, destroyed.* With what 

^Review of Wilherforce's Treatise, p. 21. 

2 Published the same yeax in a small volume to which Dr. 
Price also contributed. 

3 The riot was ostensibly occasioned by a dinner at which, 
however, Priestley was not present, in celebration of the anni- 
versary of the fall of the Bastille. The Unitarian resolutions of 

Il8 RELIGION IN ENGLAND, 1805-1832 [ch. iv 

spirit did he meet the trial ? In his Illustrations of 
Philosophical Necessity he had declared that his 
doctrine should produce ' the deepest humility, 
the most entire resignation to the will of God, and 
the most unreserved confidence in his goodness 
and providential care.' These fruits of his spirit 
were not wanting now, and won for him respect and 
admiration, even love. This noble temper pervaded 
Lindsey's Conversations on the Divine Government 
(1802). Belsham touched his highest strain of 
thought when he pleaded that the doctrine gene- 
rated ' self-annihilation,* or that complete and 
habitual conformity of the will of man to the will 
of God in which the true dignity and happiness of 
human nature entirely consist.' . . ' In the end the 
will of the pious and upright mind will be so com- 
pletely absorbed in that of God, as to desire nothing 
to happen different from what actually comes to 
pass.'^ Large prospects of divine beneficence were 
presented by Dr. Southwood Smith in his Illustra- 
tions of the Divine Government (1816) ; where the 
entire course of events was exhibited in the light 
of one vast design of infinite wisdom and goodness, 
by which evil should be vanquished and should 

April had been republished in the Moniteur and other French 
journals. The spirit of English Unitarianism is reflected a year 
later in Mrs. Barbauld's Address to the French Nation, 1792 : 
' Rise, mighty nation, in thy strength, 
And deal thy dreadful vengeance round.' 

•• For a fine description of Priestley's calmness, see Martineau's 
Essay in the Monthly Repository, 1833 : Essays, i. 32. 

2 This phrase came from Hartley ; see § iv. below, p. 127. 

8 Elements of the Philosophy of Mind, 1801, p. 313. The whole 
list of the moral advantages of the view in question deserves 
serious study. 


disappear.^ The two treatises of Priestley and Smith 
awoke the highest admiration of James Martineau 
in his college years. Fresh from their study, he 
wrote to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Thomas Martineau, 
(York, May nth, 1825), 'I do not know what that 
heart can be which is not deeply impressed with 
the most beautiful views of the divine government 
contained in these two books. . . I cannot express 
the veneration and deep-wrought enthusiasm with 
which I think of them.'* Thought, as he said a 
little later, was kindled into worship. The Unitarian 
hymnody might be imtuned to the deepest note of 
penitence ; remorse might be described as a ' fal- 
lacious feeling ' ; Priestley might say that a 
Necessarian ' cannot accuse himself of having done 
wrong in the ultimate sense of the words ' ; the 
expositor of the New Testament might not penetrate 
to the secret of Jesus, and was certain to misinterpret 
St. Paul ; but nothing could rob him of his serene 
and happy trust. ' Every thought, every volition, 
every power, every property, every motion, every 
change throughout every part of the unbounded 
universe,' affirmed Dr. Lant Carpenter with breath- 

i- This book found warm admirers in Byron, Moore, Words- 
worth, and Crabbe. (Rev. Alx. Gordon, in Diet, of Nat. Biogr.) 

2 In a similar strain he wrote to Alfred Higginson, then studying 
medicine (Nov. 21, 1825), commending Priestley^s Letters to a 
Philosophical Unbeliever : ' there are few things on which it 
does me more good to think, than such a mind as his, cultivated, 
acute, and powerful, tempered by the simplicity of Christian 
truth, and finding its most welcome enjoyments in the prospects 
of Christian hope. How I long to talk over such subjects as 
these with you, dear Alfred ; they are my deUght and glory ; 
and, I sometimes think, will, when I leave College, occupy a 
principal part of my time and studies.' 


less eagerness of joy, ' are instances of the exertion 
of his power by whom are all things. And the 
Gospel leads us to view this Almighty Being as our 
Father and our Friend.''^ Yet so little did orthodoxy 
comprehend such a faith, that Robert Hall accused 
the father of Frederick Denison Maurice, when he 
employed the baptismal formula ' in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Spirit,' of baptising ' in the name of an abstraction, 
a man, and a metaphor.'^ 


If it was difficult for contemporary orthodoxy to 
realise the nature of Unitarian piety, it is still harder 
for the modem student of philosophy to appreciate 
the atmosphere of current speculation. Great 
names had made English thought illustrious in the 
earlier half of the eighteenth century, Locke, Butler, 
Berkeley. But at the opening of the nineteenth 
the national genius was taking fresh flights, and 
the influences which were to shape the higher religion 
of the next age, were found rather in the new poetry 
than in the teachings of the schools. One great 
step, however, had been made. English philosophy 
had been definitely committed by Hartley to the 
psychological method.^ Lecturing in Lincoln's Inn 
Hall, Sir James Mackintosh laid it down that the 

1 Sermons, 1810, p. 453, ' God the source of all,' see ante, p. 52I. 

2 Life of F. D. Maurice, vol. i. p. 123. The curious reader will 
find a contemporary Unitarian interpretation in Wellbeloved's 
Letters to Wrangham, p. 12O. 

3 In the Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his 
Expectations, 1749. 


law of Association ' formed the basis of all true 
psychology, and any ontological or metaphysical 
science not contained in such (i.e. empirical) psycho- 
logy was but a web of abstractions and generalisa- 
tions.'^ The discovery of this law he attributed 
to Hobbes;2 its full application to the whole intel- 
lectual system was due to Hartley, who stood in 
the same relation to Hobbes as Newton to Kepler, 
' the law of association being that to the mind 
which gravitation is to matter. '^ Starting from an 
elementary physiology of the nervous system, l 
Hartley sought to account for the entire fabric of j 
our experience out of sensations and the ideas into 
which they were transformed when the external ; 
stimuli ceased. For the whole processes of the 
mind a physical basis was found in the brain, whose 
medullary substance was supposed to vibrate 
in connexion with an elastic ether. Groups of these | 
vibrations had their counterparts in consciousness 
as groups of ideas. The varied operations of thej 
intellectual life, memory, imagination, and reason,! 
the emotions and the will, resulted from the inter- 
action of sensations and ideas under the laws of 

The doctrines of Hartley were ardently espoused 
by Priestley, who showed, however, a disposition 

1 Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), voL i. p. 96. 

2 Coleridge has no difficulty in carrying it back to Aristotle : 
so, afterwards. Sir Wm. Hamilton. Cp. Prof. G. Croom Robert- 
son, ' Association,' in Encycl. Britannica. 

* This comparison was made by Hume, Treatise on Human 
Nature (1739), book i. part i. § iv.: vol. i. (ed. Green), p. 321. 
Cp. Stephen, English Utilitarians, ii. p. 289. 


to drop the hj^jothesis of vibrations. '^ Their 
materialistic implications were in part evaded by a 
tentative adoption of the speculations of Boscovich, 
who conceived matter to consist of indivisible centres 
of force, and denied to it the old attribute of im- 
penetrability^; and in part supplemented by an 
earnest faith in the resurrection and the life to 
come, based on the Christian revelation. Coleridge, 
however, who had himself lived in the Hartleyan 
principles, and given his master's name to his eldest 
son, came to perceive that ' the existence of an 
infinite spirit, of an intelligent and holy will, must 
on this system be mere articulated motions of the 
air.' If there were no knowledge except what 
was ultimately derived from sensation, a God who 
could not be seen, heard, or touched, could ' exist 
only in the sounds and letters that form his name 
and attributes.' He saw, therefore, clearly that 
the process by which Hume had reduced the notion 
of cause and effect into ' a bhnd product of delusion 
and habit,' would not stop there ; it ' must be 
repeated to the equal degradation of every funda- 
mental idea in ethics or theology.'^ 

This was in fact the philosophical result of the 
method in the hands of its keen and vigorous 
champion, James Mill. Early in his career as a 
thinker, he had felt the powerful impress of Hartley's 
work, and conceived the design of completing what 
his teacher had begun. This purpose was carried 
out by the pubhcation in 1829 of his Analysis of 

1 He republished the Observations without them, 1775. 

" Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit, 2nd ed. 1782, p. 24. 

^ Biographia Literaria, i. p. 121. 


the Human Mind.^ All philosophy must start 
from facts, and the primary fact in human con- 
sciousness is feeling. ' Think,' he says elsewhere,^ 
does not include aU our experience, but ' there is 
nothing to which we could not extend the term 
" I feel." ' Out of feeUngs, the ideas into which 
they are transformed, and the groups into which 
these ideas are associated. Mill endeavoured to 
construct the whole activity of the mind. Here 
were the ultimate elements of all its powers, reason- 
ing, imagination, abstraction, memory, beUef . What, 
then, became of the great ontological conceptions, 
space, time, cause, God ? They were all dissolved. 
' Cause ' was nothing but antecedence and sequence ; 
time only an idea of successions, 'it consists of this 
and nothing else ' ; and God and the devil were the 
results of arbitrary combinations of ideas as much 
as the unicorn and the cyclops.^ For this book 
James Martineau long cherished a sincere admiration. 
Its boldness, its lucidity, its analytic skill, satisfied ' 
his passion for completeness of construction. He 
at once began to use it in his teaching,* and he was 
not conscious of any conflict between the solvents 
of his philosophy and the affirmations of his reUgion. 
Enshrined in the sanctuary of Revelation, faith 
was beyond attack. 

1 See J. S. Mill's preface to the edition of 1869, vol. i. p. 17 

2 Education, p. 6, quoted by Stephen, op. cit. ii. p. 290. 

» Analysis, vol. ii. p. 62. 

* See below, chap. VI. In later days when he had abandoned 
its methods, he still recommended it to his students as the ablest 
exposition of its kind. In its sequel, the essay on Mackintosh's 
Dissertation, though he deplored its temper, he recognised an 
even greater power. 


Hartley and Priestley never formally faced the 
problem of accounting for our belief in the external 
world. Their principles led, in the hands of James 
Mill, to what is technically designated ' Empirical 
Idealism.' It was an ancient maxim that ' like only 
can know like.' For this dictum no proof was 
offered ; it was treated as self-evident ; and in its 
application to the mind it resulted in the doctrine 
that we can know nothing but our states of con- 
sciousness, our sensations, and ideas, while matter 
became only what John Stuart Mill afterwards called 
' a permanent possibihty of sensation.' Against 
this position Reid had lifted up his voice at Glasgow 
in protest.^ In the name of ' common sense ' he 
pleaded that it was the -irp&rov i/rtvSos of philo- 
sophy from Descartes to Hume to insist ' that 
all the objects of my knowledge are ideas in my own 
mind.' In the act of perception there is an immedi- 
ate and intuitive distinction between the self and 
the not-self, and the reahty of the external world 
was guaranteed as a direct object of our consciousness. 
The writings of the Scottish school were not unknown 
in the class-room at York, but they made no impres- 
sion on the young Martineau. In 1829, however, 
a new and powerful writer entered the field. The 
Edinburgh Review for October contained an article 
on ' the Philosophy of the Unconditioned.' It 
was the first number under the editorship of Macvey 
Napier, and his predecessor Jeffrey was horror- 
struck at his acceptance of ' the most unreadable 

1 He followed Adam Smith as Professor of Moral Philosophy, 


thing that ever appeared in the Review.' Nothing 
could more characteristically display the poverty 
of English philosophy at that date, than the fact 
that the first essay of Sir William Hamilton, a 
criticism of Cousin, should be denounced by Jeffrey 
as ' sheer nonsense.' Here was a writer who could 
speak the language of Kant and ScheUing, not 
' with bated breath and whispering humbleness,' 
nor in the vague and rhapsodic style of the Highgate 
sage, but as an equal disputant upon the field. 
The defence of Reid was conducted a year later 
in another essay, 1830, on ' The Philosophy of 
Perception,' when Hamilton declared himself a 
' Natural Realist,' and affirmed his reliance on the 
direct testimony of consciousness to the existence 
of an outside world. With the difficulties involved 
in his further doctrine that ' our knowledge whether 
of mind or matter can be nothing more than a 
knowledge of the relative manifestation of an exis- 
tence which in itself it is our highest wisdom to 
recognise as beyond the reach of philosophy,'^ 
his successors were afterwards abundantly busy. 
It must suffice here to quote Martineau's later 

estimate^ : — 

The great critic and metaphysician of Edinburgh has rendered 
inestimable service by reducing the leading problems of philosophy 
into a better form than they had assumed in the hands of any of 
his predecessors, and by admirable examples of the true method 
of discussion. But he has rendered a higher and yet more fruitful 
service by awakening the dormant genius of British philosophy, 
rebuking its sluggishness, reviving its aspirations, and training 
a school of studious and generous admirers, who will emulate his 
example and reverently carry on his work. 

''■ ' The Philosophy of the Unconditioned ' in Discussions on 
Philosophy and Literature, p. 15. 
2 See 'Hamilton's Philosophy,' 1853, Essays, ii. 488. 


The reduction of all knowledge to sensations and 
the ideas derived from them involved a corresponding 
origin for the moral life. That some sensations 
produce pleasure and others pain, is an ultimate 
and irresolvable fact in human nature ; and it 
sufficed in the hands of Hartley and James Mill 
to supply the foundation for a whole theory of 
virtue. But the picture of character in Hartley's 
Rule of Life^ was very different from the uncom- 
promising selfishness of Mill's Analysis. Not only 
did Hartley admit qualitative distinctions between 
' gross ' and ' refined ' self-interest, and recognise 
that some pleasures were ' purer ' than others, he 
also called in his principle of association to explain 
the process by which hope and fear might become 
' the chief Foundation of the pure disinterested 
Love of God and of our Neighbour.'^ With the 
help of the sympathetic affections, associations may 
be formed which will engage us to forego great 
pleasure, or endure great pain, for the sake of others ; 
and without any direct or explicit expectation of 
reward either from God or man, or even the express 
appointment of concomitant pleasure in a generous 
action, the forces of human activity are spontane- 
ously directed along the channels of disinterested 
benevolence.* Higher and higher does the purified 
character ascend, ' till we take our Station in the 
Divine Nature, and view everything from thence, 
and in the Relation which it bears to God.'* This 

1 Originally chap. iii. in Observations, vol. ii. but well known 
afterwards in a separate form as a handbook of Moral Culture. 
^ Observations, i. p. 465. ^ Observations, i. p. 474. 

* Observations, ii. p. 310. 


is ' perfect Self-annihilation, and Resting in God as 
our Centre.'^ Thus does a philosophy of sensation 
start from animal self-gratiification to end in the 
beatific vision. It was this ardent vindication of 
the intrinsic worth of the love of virtue for its own 
sake which engaged the young Martineau's affec- 
tions at College, 2 and put a powerful weapon in his/ 
hand when he undertook to criticize Bentham'si 

Hartley, especially as interpreted by Priestley, 
had practically entire command of the Unitarian 
field, for the influence of Price was little felt. Angli- 
can orthodoxy meanwhUe turned to Paley for its 
moral philosophy, and rested in his well-known 
definition of virtue as ' the doing good to mankind 
in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of 
everlasting happiness.'* This was theological 
utiUtarianism of the crudest sort.^ The whole stress 
of the system fell on the promise of heaven and the 
fear of hell. Between prudence and virtue the 
difference ' and the only difference ' was this : 
' in the one case we consider what we shall gain 
or lose in the present world ; and in the other case 
we consider also what we shall gain or lose in the 
world to come.' Do you ask why you are ' obliged ' 
to keep your word ? The answer is that obligation 
contains two elements, external constraint, and 

* Observations, ii. p. 282. 2 See atite, chap. II. p. 49. 

^Monthly Repository, 1834, p. 620. Oa the authorship of the 
article see Mr. Upton's remarks. Life, ii. 265. Cp. chap. VI. § i 

* Moral and Political Philosophy, 1785, Book i. chap. vii. 

5 Dr. Martineau used to say, after his own great change, that it 
' comprised the maximum of error in the minimum of space.' 


the command of a superior : the second is the opera- 
tive force for ordinary men : if you lie, God has 
announced that he will throw you into everlasting 
fire. To Bentham, on the other hand, these threats 
suggested no terrors. The calm assurance with 
which Paley built up his whole system on a dis- 
putable authority and a doubtful future, could not 
move him from his fundamental principle, — ' Nature 
has placed mankind under the governance of two 
sovereign masters, fain and pleasure. It is for 
them alone to point out what we ought to do, as 
well as to determine what we shall do.'^ Happiness, 
then, was the sole aim of man ; and ' the greatest 
happiness of the greatest number ' was the object 
not only of social organisation but of personal 
conduct.® To this end certain ' sanctions ' of 
pleasure and pain are attached to different actions, 
and Bentham, deeply concerned for the reform 
of legislation, interested himself in these from the 
pohtical side. The legislator's business was to 
promote happiness ; whatever produced most happi- 
ness was just. Obhgation, on the other hand, was 
only a ' fictitious entity,' and the word ' ought ' 
ought to be banished from the vocabulary of morals.® 
Against this utilitarian legalism Coleridge raised 
an impassioned though irregular protest. In Ben- 
tham and Coleridge John Stuart Mill saw ' the two 
great seminal minds of England in their age ' ; 

1 Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 
chap. i. Works, part i. p. i. 

* On the origin of this formula see ante, p. 8i. 

? Deontology, i. p. 32. 

§ iv] COLERIDGE 129 

and when he criticised his great master on the ground 
that his system provided no recognition for senti- 
ments hke the sense of honour or the love of beauty,^ 
he made concessions to moral idealism which 
greatly scandalised the faithful. Coleridge had 
never possessed the calm and self-controlled temper 
commended in the Rule of Life, and practised with 
such serenity by Priestley. The first access of 
trouble upset him. ' Yea my friend,' he wrote to 
Mr. B. Flower in 1796,^ ' I have been sorely afflicted ; 
I have rolled my dreary eye from earth to heaven ; 
I found no comfort till it pleased the unimaginable 
high and lofty One to make my heart tender in 
regard of religious feelings. My philosophical refine- 
ments and metaphysical theories lay by me in the 
hour of anguish as toys by the bedside of a child 
deadly sick.' From these distresses he was delivered 
by the studies opened to him during his residence 
at Gottingen (1798-99). At Keswick about 1802 
he began the serious reading of Kant ; and a few 
years later he had completed the great transforma- 
tion of ethics from outward sanction to inward 
principle : — 

No magistrate, no monarch, no legislature, can without tyranny 
compel me to do anything which the acknowledged laws of God 
have forbidden me to do. So act that thou mayest be able 
without any contradiction to will that the maxim of thy conduct 
should be the law of all intelligent beings — is the one universal 
and sufficient principle and guide of morality. And why ? 

1 Dissertations, vol. i. p. 360, ' Bentham,' 1838. ' Every 
Englishman,' he afterwards wrote {ibid. p. 397, ' Coleridge,' 
1840), 'is either a Benthamite or a Coleridgian ' : 'whoever 
could master the premises and combine the methods of both, 
would possess the entire EngUsh philosophy of his age.' 

* Monthly Repository, 1834, p. 654. 


Because the object of morality is not the outward act, but the 
internal maxim of our actions.^ 

When, however, this principle was translated 
into conduct, the result was in curious harmony 
with the utiMtarian scheme. The outward object of 
virtue, he affirmed,^ is the greatest producible sum 
of happiness of all men. This ' must needs include 
the object of an intelligent self-love, which is the 
greatest possible happiness of one individual ; for 
what is true of aU, is true of each.' In the same 
spirit did Sir James Mackintosh, in his Dissertation 
on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy,^ distinguish 
between the theory of the moral sentiments, and 
the criterion of morality in action. The moral 
sentiments he found to be a part of the original 
equipment of human nature. They were indeed 
awakened by intercourse with the world without ; 
but they were conformed to an inner law. The 
disinterested affections were not the result of the 
jugglery of association ; they possessed a native 
worth ; and among the manifold propensions 
within, conscience, as Butler had taught, exercised 
an independent and sovereign sway. But the 
difference between right and wrong in human con- 
duct could not be judged on the same ground; 
the law within carried its own justification with it ; 
the obligation to do good was an ultimate and 
irreducible element in the moral life ; but what this 

1 The Friend, i. 340, originally published in 1809. 

" Aids to Reflection, 1825, aphorism xxxiv. c. 

3 Written in 1829, and prefixed to the seventh edition of the 
Bncyclopesdia Brilannica, of which Macvey Napier was editor. 
This was the discourse that roused James Mill to fury. 


law prescribes in any particular case, ' agrees with 
the rale rightly understood of bringing forth the 
greatest happiness.' Only slowly did the reviving 
intuitive philosophy feel its way through the utili- 
tarian environment.^ 

The reader who passes from the first volume to 
the second of Hartley's Observations on Man, is 
surprised to find a philosophy which reduces aU 
knowledge to sensation, suddenly allying itself with 
metaphysical reasoning, and producing an ontological 
argument for Theism : ' Prop. I., Something must 
have existed from all Eternity ; or, There never was 
a Time when nothing existed-'^ Step by step the 
demonstration advances. There cannot have been 
a mere succession of finite dependent beings ; there 
must exist, at least. One infinite and independent. 
Power, knowledge, benevolence, are successively 
assigned to him. He is the sole cause of all things, 
of aU motions in the material world, and ultimately 
of all the actions of man. But Hartley's conception 
escapes from entangling Deity in a struggle with 
reluctant matter, whose difficulties must be over- 
come by mechanism, contrivance, and design. 
The Infinite and Eternal may be described as 
omnipresent, in the sense that there is no other 
power but his ; yet he does not exist in succession ; 
all time to him is one everlasting Now. Time 
belongs only to finite beings ; space is but the rela- 
tions of material things. Above these limitations 
is the sublime immutability of the Only Holy, the 

1 For Martineau's early views (1834^ see further, chap. VI. 
* Vol. ii. p. 5. 


First and the Last. Annihilate self, therefore, 
urged Hartley, and ascribe all to God,^ whose 
sole energy fills and guides the worlds, and blends 
the conflicting passions of men into one ultimate 
and imiversal good. It was characteristic of 
Hartley's optimism that he found a strong support 
for this necessarian triumph in his moral protest 
against the doctrine of eternal punishment.* 

Hartley, therefore, was not among the prede- 
cessors who suggested to Paley the famous argument 
about the watch. But to Priestley it was more 
natural. ' For the same reason that the table on 
which I write, or the watch that hes before me, 
must have had a maker, myself and the worlcL I live 
in must have had a maker too ; and a design, a 
fitness of parts to each other, and to an end, are no 
less obvious in the one case than in the other.'* 
Priestley, accordingly, drew a sharper distinction 
than Hartley between the universe and God. To 
the critic who should have classed him along with 
Hartley as a ' materialist Spinoza,'* Priestley was 
ready to reply that Spinoza made the universe 
itself to be God, and so, in fact, denied that there 

1 VoL ii. p. 6i. 

2 ' It is true, indeed, that the Arguments against the Eternity 
of Punishment are shorter, stronger, and clearer, upon the 
supposition of Necessity, of God's being the real, ultimate Author 
of all Actions, than upon the Supposition of Free-will. But 
then this seems, if all Things be duly considered, to be rather a 
presumption in favour of the Doctrine of Necessity than other- 
wise.' Vol. ii. p. 65. 

3 Disquisitiom Relating to Matter and Spirit, § xvi., vol. i. p. 
188, ed. 1782. 

*Cp. Stephen on Hartley, English Thought in the Eighteenth 
Century, vol. ii. p. 65. 


was any.^ But the religious consequence was much 
the same. Priestley had his full slaare of the amor 
intellectuali& Dei. 

' I own,' he wrote, ' that for my part I feel an inexpressible 
satisfaction in the idea of that most intimate connexion which, 
on my hypothesis, myself and everything in which I am concerned, 
have with the Deity. On his will I am entirely dependent for 
my being, and all my faculties. My sphere and degree of in- 
fluence on other beings and other things, is his influence. I 
am but an instrument in his hands for effecting a certain part 
of the greatest and most glorious of purposes. I am happy 
in seeing a httle of this purpose.'^ 

In his maturest years Mr. Martineau could never 
forget the impression of solemnity created in his 
early thought by this religion of causation, and 
he thus described it in a well-known sermon on 
Three Stages of Unitarian Theology^: — 

You pass through an experience at once subduing and exalting, 
when you part from all realities but the Supreme, and find your- 
self with Him alone ; when the throng of secondary causes 
ceases to distract and to conflict, and, as it sinks into semblance, 
drops into the lines of an eternal order ; when you try to empty 
the running waters and the sweeping winds and the teeming 
earth of any forces of their own, and bid them speak and look 
for Him alone ; when the passions of men rise up against you, 
and you stand still and answer not, because they subside before 
your eye into a pulsation of His wiU ; when the very thoughts 
you seem to think resolve themselves before you into phenomena 
of His Ufe passing a conscious point of space ; when, in short, 
life becomes to you a sacred dream, and history a soliloquy of 
God, and the possibility is gone of anything less than the Divine. 
As if to test at once the sustaining efficacy of this faith, its great 
apostle in the last century was driven, the victim of ruinous out- 
rage, from the country he had instructed and adorned ; and 
never did it receive more impressive comment than in the lofty 
patience, and serene trust, the unexhausted benevolence, of 
the exile of Pennsylvania. 

The argument from design received powerful 

^ Disquisitions, i. p. 88. ^ Disquisitions, vol. i. p. 43. 

3 In 1869 ; Essays, iv. 573. 


expression in the book which crowned the series 
of Paley's works, his Natural Theology, published 
in 1802. Not a Uttle remarkable is it that Dr. 
Martiaeau, who used to say that this was the only 
book that ever made him doubt, returned in later 
life to some of its leading idejis, though in his hands 
they assumed fresh forms. God, as Paley presents 
him, is neither the Infinite Geometer of Plato, 
thinking out the universe by a vast process of 
deduction from ideal principles of his own being, 
nor the ' perfect poet,' who spontaneously lives out 
his own creations. He is a giant Contriver, for it is 
only by the display of contrivance that his existence, 
agency, and wisdom, can be testified to his rational 
creatures. Whatever is done, God could have done 
without the intervention of instruments or means. 
But it is in the construction of instruments, and 
m the choice and adaptation of means, that a creative 
intelligence is seen. For the purpose, then, of 
revealing himself to man, God has been pleased to 
prescribe limits to his own power, and to work his 
ends within these limits.^ Paley, however, discerned 
clearly enough that this argument could not carry 
him further than a unity of designing mind. There 
was one plan for the universe, but its execution might 
be delegated to a pluraUty of agents.® The concep- 
tion of a God at once immanent and transcendent, 
presented by Hartley, was thus converted into a 
kind of imperiahsm represented departmentally by 

^Chap. iii., Works, vol. iv. (1845), p. 33. 

2 ' The whole argument for the divine unity goes no further 
than a unity of counsel ' : 'no arguments that we are in posses- 
sion of exclude the ministry of subordinate agents,' chap. xxv. 


local powers. If Priestley had emphasized a certain 
distinction between the universe and God, Paley 
heightened it indefinitely with his stress on the 
mechanism of limb and muscle, the chemistry of 
the bile, the physiology of respiration, and the 
provision for the foetus. Here is no hint of ineffable 
mysteries beyond space and time. The great 
Artificer creates his own materials, elects his own 
ends, and under the familiar conditions of our 
common experience produces a world where we make 
a watch. 

This mechanism of creation excited a deep abhor- 
rence in the mind of Coleridge, when once the reaction 
against the philosophy of his youth began. In his 
cottage at the foot of the Quantocks he devoted his 
thoughts and studies to the foundations of religion 
and morals.^ What proof had he, so he asked him- 
self, of the outward existence of anything ? Such 
proof he declared to be in the nature of things 
impossible. ' Of all modes of being, that are not 
objects of the senses, the existence is assumed by 
a logical necessity arising from the constitution 
of the mind itself.' Here was a new weapon of 
combat, supplied to him by German analysis. It 
led him away from a philosophy of sensation, and 
opened to him, whether through Plotinus or Schelling, 
what Wordsworth had designated ' the vision and 
the faculty divine.' ^ The hint of earUer years that 
' religion must have a moral origin ' became the chief 
theme of his Aids to Reflection in 1825. In this work, 
with its rambling aphorisms and still more rambling 

1 Biographia Literaria, i. p. 194. 2 /Jj'd. p. 244. 


commentaries, he sought to establish the distinct 
characters of prudence, morality, and religion. 
The second, in his view, required the first ; the 
third contained and supposed both the former. 
But religion did not rest solely upon ethics. It 
belonged to the whole of man's higher nature. 
Adopting the Kantian distinction between the 
Understanding which deals with our common ex- 
perience, and the Reason which brings ' a unity 
into aU our conceptions and several knowledges,' 
he pleaded that on this unity the whole fabric of 
knowledge depended. The world could only become 
intelligible on the assumption of a One as the ground 
or cause of the universe, behind all succession, 
subject neither to time nor change.^ How this Idea 
was raised by morality and religion into the supreme 
object of faith, love, fear, and adoration, was the 
great theme of Coleridge's philosophy. From the 
demonstrations which started from the signs of 
order and purpose in nature, he turned away as 
inadequate or superfluous. They either failed to 
get beyond the proof of a mighty Demiurge who 
resembled a vast and non-natural man ; or they 
presupposed the idea of God without being able to 
authenticate it. The human mind itself bore within 
it the impress of the Divine ; and the infinite Reality 
was recognised beyond, because it had first been 
discerned within the soiil. In Reason lay the roots 
of all our thinking ; on the side of knowledge sup- 
pling the ideas of cause, of unity, and infinitude ; 
on the side of action opening to us mysteries of 

^ Aphorism xcviii. c. 5. 

$ jv] COLERIDGE I37 

freedom, with heavenly attributes of holiness, 
providence, love, justice, mercy, and human recog- 
nition of the solemn sanctities of obligation. The 
immediate effect of this was to break down the rigid 
limits of ' revelation.' It could no longer be con- 
ceived as the utterance of a ' superhuman ventrilo- 
quist ' ; it was not restricted to a canonical Scripture ; 
it was an essential element in aU true religion ; for 
the reason which was its organ was not of our own 
making, but reflected under the forms of our con- 
sciousness the very realities of the Eternal. 

Other voices beside that of Coleridge uttered the 
same plea, but in less technical language. Words- 
worth has often been described as a philosophical 
poet ; though no one reads him aright who 
endeavours to fit his utterance into a definite 
scheme of systematic thought. Yet he led the way 
in the revolt against the mechanical interpretation of 
the world, and portrayed its life and beauty as the 
expression of an ever-present Spirit.^ Nor was he 
the poet of nature only ; between the ' Ode to Duty ' 
and Bentham's ' Deontology ' was a great gulf fixed ; 
and no less a chasm separated it from the Evan- 
gelical formula which labelled all natural righteous- 
ness as ' filthy rags.' SheUey stood outside the 
sphere of recognised religion, but he is at the anti- 
podes of philosophical materialism. The world, as 
he viewed it, is full of spiritual forces : and with a 
boundless confidence in them he depicts the triumph 
of man over social wrong and the tyranny of out- 
worn creeds. Wordsworth had seen hope shattered, 

1 The ' Tintem Abbey ' Lines were composed in 1789, four 
years before Paley's Natural Theology. 


and faith eclipsed ; with infinite pain he built up 
again the edifice of trust. Shelley comes to the same 
problems almost a generation later ; the reaction 
of authority and privilege has set in ; he flings 
himself passionately against it ; but he invokes no 
power of the sword ; the regeneration which he 
prophesies so ardently^ is wrought out only by 
faithfulness and love. With a sterner defiance 
did BjTon hurl his protest in Cain (1822) against the 
prevailing theology, ' the most powerful, the most 
himian, the most serious thing he ever wrote, and 
the most effective.'^ The clergy might be indignant, 
and Jeffrey might scold ; but it was needful that 
current doctrines of punishment and atonement 
should be done away to give room for thoughts of 
a higher justice and love ; and it was well that the 
work of destruction should be initiated by a poet 
who could compel his countrymen to listen. 

Meanwhile a new and powerful voice began to 
resound in the English periodicals. Thomas Carlyle 
was passing through agitated and stormy years. 
As eaxly as 18 19 he had commenced the study of 
German ; in 1824 he issued the translation of Wilhelm 
Meister. Article after article presented successive 
delineations of the masters of German literature. 
Arrived in London, he, too, made a pilgrimage to 
Highgate ; he, too, dwelt on the distinction between 
the Understanding and the Reason ; he, too, was 
for a while the champion and interpreter of Kant. 
No more than Wordsworth, however, was Carlyle, 

1 The Revolt of Islam, 1818 ; Prometheus Unbound, 1820. 

2 The Development of Theology as illustrated in English Poetry 
from 1780 to 1830, by the Rev. Stopford A. Brooke, 1893, p. 39. 


using prose instead of poetry as his medium, a 
systematic thinker. In Goethe did he find his 
prophet. There was a teacher who had turned his 
back on the creeds of the Church without sinking 
into the worship of utihty ; who had reached a 
lofty conception of the universe unencumbered by 
BibUcal Uteralism ; and found a new dignity in 
life by placing it under the sway of ideal ends of 
truth, beauty, and goodness. But in 1831 Carlyle 
parted company altogether with the philosophers, 
and in the Essay on ' Characteristics '^ announced 
his doctrine of ' unconsciousness ' ; declared that 
man's true health is to have a soul without being 
aware of it ; and held up the products of science 
and reflection as the outcome of a kind of disease : 
— ' If Adam had remained in Paradise, there had 
been no anatomy and no metaphysics.'^ 

With the rising developments of science the 
passionate spirit of Carlyle had little sympathy. 
But France gave the lead to a new teacher, when 
Comte published in 1830 the first volume of his 
Cours de Philosophic Positive. England was to wait 
nearly a generation for a thinker who should in 
like manner boldly attempt the task of co-ordinating 
the sciences under the general conception of Evolu- 
tion. Meanwhile the ground was being surveyed. 
Lyell produced the first part of his Principles of 
Geology. In the same year, 1830, Herschel ex- 
pounded the ideas that underlay all scientific method 
in his noble Discourse on Natural Philosophy. Two 

1 Edinburgh Review, cviii. 

2 Criticised by Martineau in Endeavours after the Christian 
Life, vol. ii., 1847, 'Christian Self -Consciousness.' vi. 

I ainc.i ^ I'lartui&cwy 

D-ne/V ''-(Valk^ £?/l,c?c . 



On the 29th June, 1832, James Martineau had 
left DubUn alone for Liverpool. The family, who 
followed, were sheltered at first in the friendly home 
of the Misses Yates at Farmfield,^ which was so often 
to open to them in future years for quiet and re- 
freshment after the exacting labours of the town. 
The close of the Dublin settlement had involved 
heavy loss ; but this was relieved by the generosity 
of the Congregation in Liverpool, who presented 
the junior pastor with £100 in advance and a share 
in the Athenaeum ;^ while the friends from Eustace 
St. sent over a stiU larger sum as a tribute of affec- 
tionate admiratioii. Six weeks after reaching Liver- 
pool, Mr. Martineau established himself in a new 
home at 3, Mount Street. 

' One preciouslink there was,' he wrote afterwards, ' which pre- 
vented the breach with the Dublin Ufa from being absolute. 
The dear friend, with her two sons, who had passed with us 
from Bristol to Dublin, now took a house near us in Liverpool ; 
her younger son entering a solicitor's office for his legal training, 
and the elder prosecuting those scientific and medical studies 
which have made him one of the most accompUshed of living 
men. In spite of great losses by removal, I managed before long 
to discharge my debt to her, and with it the last hngering anxiety 
of the Dublin crisis.' 

1 In the beautiful estate known as the Dingle. 
2 Letter to Dr. Carpenter, July i6. 


The ten or twelve years that followed, were in 
many ways the most dif&cult and laborious in his 
whole career. They determined the character of 
his activity, shaped the fresh forms of his thought, 
enabled him to reconstruct his whole theology and 
philosophy, and fixed the lines of his future influence. 

The chapel in Paradise Street which was to be 
the scene of Mr. Martineau's ministry, had been 
built in 1771. Like the religious home of his early 
years at Norwich, it had the shape of an octagon. 
There, Sunday by Sunday, for sixteen years, he 
lived his intensest life, and exercised with unwearied 
energy the gift of teaching. That his preaching 
had pecuhar characteristics, and could not make 
an equal appeal to every mind, he was well aware ; 
to his revered friend Dr. Carpenter he thus made 
his explanations. 

Liverpool, July 16, 1832. 

I receive with grateful welcome your wishes, always sincere 
and sound as well as aflfectionate, for my welfare and usefulness 
here, and your suggestions respecting the best means of rendering 
my preaching subservient to this end. I am aware, often to a 
painful and almost overpowering degree, of the faults and defects 
of my pulpit services, both in the particulars which you mention, 
and in others ; but tlie plain truth is that the existing tendencies 
of my own mind (which I believe to be constitutional) towards 
certain modes of thinking and feeUng, are so strong that I cannot 
overcome them ; the attempt, even if it makes me plainer, 
produces constraint and coldness — worse evils than those which I 
avoid. Unless I feel strongly, I cannot write : and I cannot 
feel unless I indulge the views and reflexions which I love, and 
experience to be useful to my own mind. The question is not 
whether there might not be a more efiective style of preaching ; 
I know there might. But the question is whether a man with 
my particular constitution of mind could attain this better style : 
and I believe that I could not. So I have made up my mind 


that I must be content with usefulness to a certain class oi 
minds, and forego the far nobler privilege of influence on the 
human mind in general. Forgive me these few lines about 
myself ; they are really written not in the spirit of self-defence, 
but in that of confession. 

Many of his hearers, for a long time to come, 
were to follow him with difficulty. To a natural 
shyness he added a peculiar reserve on the deep 
things of the heart, which made any attempt at 
familiar speech concerning them seem like desecra- 
tion ; in the ordinary intercourses of life he could 
never introduce such topics because it might be 
professionally expected of him ; but in correspon- 
dence the barrier was again and again withdrawn ; 
and the semi-publicity of the class constantly sup- 
plied an opportunity in the midst of the growing 
interests of the young, of which he was ready to 
avail himself to the full. Within three months of 
his settlement he organised a morning lecture 
before service, on Natural Theology, intended to 
lead up to Scripture criticism — ' he has a grand 
attendance,' noted Mrs. Martineau approvingly at 
the end of the year,^ — and after service came a 
second class for younger members. By these means 
he really educated a future congregation to his 
own modes of thought and feeling ;^ they understood 
the concentrated reasoning and the elaborate expres- 
sion of the sermon, because they had first grown 
familiar with the beloved voice in the more intimate 
discussions of the lecture-room. To these were 

' The morning lecture was long attended also by hearers from 
the Renshaw Street congregation. 

2 At one time there was an additional class for girls at 4, followed 
by one of boys : then came tea in the committee-room, and 
evening service at 6-30. 


sometimes added week-evening conferences,^ when 
difficulties might be stated and removed ; and others 
besides the devoted wife could sj^npathise with such 
an entry in the irregular journal as this, ' a glorious 
revelation of J.'s soul to-night at the conference, 
on his grand subject, the arguments for human 
immortality.' How he appeared to the S5mipathetic 
hearer at this season may be gathered from the 
well-known words of the Rev. Charles Wicksteed, 
then minister of the Ancient Chapel, Toxteth Park, 
who recalled his impressions in 1877 : — 

Well does the writer remember, though it is forty-five years 
ago, how the circular staircase of the somewhat conspicuous 
pulpit was quietly ascended by a tall young man, thin, but of 
vigorous and muscular frame, with dark hair, pale but not 
d^icate complexion, a countenance full in repose of thought, 
and in animation of intelligence and enthusiasm, features belong- 
ing to no regular type or order of beauty, and yet leaving the 
impression of a very high kind of beauty, and a voice so sweet, 
and clear and strong, without being in the least degree loud, 
that it conveyed all the inspiration of music without any of its 
art or intention. When this young man, with the background 
of his honour and courage, rose to speak of the inspiration that 
was not in the letter but in the soul, and (for that time of day) 
boldly distinguished between the inspiration of Old Testament 
books and Old Testament heroes, he completed the conquest 
of his hearers.^ 

Year by year the preacher's power grew ; but with 
the growth came also a consciousness that the deeps 
of feeling out of which the sermon issued could not be 
punctually opened every week. This was one of the 
reasons why he sometimes devoted courses of evening 
lectures to subjects of theology, suggested by his 
evangelical environment in Liverpool, or the rising 
Tractarian movement, or the rapid advances alike 

1 These began in 1836. 
2 National Portrait Gallery of Messrs. Cassell & Co., part 78. 


of Biblical criticism and of science. This, too, was 
the reason why he could not be induced to preach 
extempore : in the act of speech he could not be 
alone with God, wrapped in that solitude of spirit 
which he found needfiil to enable him to bring the 
wants and aspirations of the soul beneath the 
consecration of the Eternal. Once or twice did he 
attempt it in his earlier years. 

He gave us in the evening (reported Mrs. Martineau, April 
13. 1835), his beautiful expository sermon on Christ to the thief 
on the cross, and talked it over with me whether he could venture 
on something of the same style of expository sermon extempore. 
It is curious enough that the very next Sunday should have driven 
him to try his powers in this way. There was no gas,'- nor had 
he even the power of having pulpit Ughts. So he took the text 
of the sermon he was intending to preach, having read the chapter 
previously, and with no other preparation than having read 
over his sermon beforehand, explained the text ' In the beginning 
was the Word,' etc. The subject favoured him, being of the 
expository kind which he would choose for a beginning of ex- 
tempore preaching, and to my mind it was a beautiful earnest 
of what his power in this way may prove. He was quite clear 
and self-possessed throughout, being perfect master of his subject, 
and that subject being of the argumentative explanatory kind, 
he needed not any burst of feeling which might have bewildered 
him and put him out." 

For expository preaching, however, Mr. Martineau 
had a decided distaste. The scholar and historian 
in him were too strong, and insisted on having their 
rights. The discussions which they demanded were, 
in his judgment, unsuitable to the pulpit, and 
obtruded the difficulties of the critic into what should 
be the coUoquy of the soul with God. On this theme 
he thus expressed himself in retrospect at ninety 

1 Tradition related that it went out during the service. 

2 It was said that nothing was observable except that the 
sermon was rather shorter than usual. 


years.^ The passage throws interesting light on 
his idea of the function of a text. 

The method of explanation ' presupposes an insight into a 
crowded mass of personal, social, geographical, historical, and 
religious, particulars ; from the combined operation of which 
results the meaning of the text. To put his reader in possession 
of these, and make him at home in the scene of them, is therefore 
the business of the expositor. So Uttle appropriate to the pulpit 
is this task that no genuine preacher will undertake it there. 
It belongs to the prolegomena of a commentary, where the mean- 
ing of the phrases, the content of conceptions, and connexion of 
clauses are set forth, and made to 3rield the author's thought. 
This didactic process is in the province of the philologist and 
grammarian, and must be looked for in their books, and cannot 
be carried thence to be retailed in church. The preacher's 
function, on the other hand, is to take out of Scripture some 
thought so little entangled with conditions of time and place 
as already to speak for itself, and thence to transfer it unchanged 
to his hearers' experience and duties in their different time and 
place. In doing this he will be detained within the drama 
of their Ufe, wUl go with them into their temptations, carry 
light into their sorrows, and throw himself into their aspirations 
and their prayers. This application of a text already under- 
stood is quite a different act from the discussion and elucidation 
of its meaning as it came into its context from the author's mind ; 
so difierent that I deem it impossible to satisfy in one composition 
the requirements of a good exposition and a good sermon.' 

In the spring of 1835 the senior minister of Paradise 
St. retired,^ and the undivided charge was com- 
mitted to Mr. Martineau.* ' The Sunday before last 
was the first of my husband's sole ministry,' noted 
Mrs. Martineau on April 13th, ' an eventful day to 
us as marking a new and perhaps very important 

1 Preface to A Spiritual Faith, Sermons by J. Hamilton Thom. 

3 In consequence of disease of the brain. On his death in 
1843 Mr. Martineau preached a sermon in which he declared that 
his relation to him as colleague ' wcis never weakened or made 
painful by any ungentle word or thought, never for a moment 
embarrassed by any discordances between the wisdom of the 
elder, and the enthusiasm of the younger.' 

3 Prior to this, at the close of 1834, the congregation had made 
Mr. Martineau a third present, — this time iiso. 


era in our lives. " I should rather," said he, " con- 
sider it a great change to myself, than make any 
great external changes or professions." ' In his own 
retrospect the matter was thus described : — 

The retirement of my excellent colleague rendered my position at 
once more stable and more responsible. There had been no more 
difference between us than is almost inevitable between two 
successive generations : and he had never availed himself of his 
authority as Senior to put the slightest check upon my plans. 
But out of personal deference to modes of thought other than 
my own, I had put a check upon myself, and suppressed many 
a natural word and wish of which I could foresee his disapproval. 
The undivided office left me now without excuse, if I failed to 
shape my work into a form consistent and complete. Complete 
it certainly never became. Consistent I believe its various parts 
really were at any one time ; but, on comparing separated times , 
contrarieties undoubtedly appear ; nor did my ways of thinking 
and teaching at any period undergo more serious change than 
during the first few years of my sole ministry. 


During his Dubhn ministry James Martineau 
had remained constant to the convictions of his 
College years. In 1830 he wrote to Dr. Carpenter 
on April 5, expressing the warmest admiration for a 
series of papers by Mr. W. J. Fox occasioned by the 
death of Mr. Belsham, Nov. 11, 1829.^ 

Have you thought of reprinting from the Repository Mr. 
Fox's most beautiful sketch of Mr. Belsham's life and writings ? 
I do not know whether it is quite adapted for separate publication ; 
and yet I wish that it were accessible to every Unitarian. I 
would give up two-thirds at least of Dr. Channing's writings 
for those papers. I never received so much delight and improve- 
ment in so short a space from anything out of the Bible. 

The same spirit of ardent discipleship breathes 
in the essay on Priestley, written after his removal 

^Monthly Repository, 1830, Feb., March, April. 


to Liverpool.^ But a new ethical note is sounded 
in the review of Bentham's Deontology, in 1834.* 
He has no patience for the ' intolerant scorn with 
which Mr. Bentham thinks it incumbent upon him 
to treat all schemes of morality different from his 
own ' ; and pronounces indignant censure on his 
' defamation ' of Socrates and Plato. He stiU thinks 
that happiness is ' the divine signature by which 
alone Providence has made intelligible his oracles 
of human duty.' But he passes unconsciously — 
through a spirited vindication of the reality of the 
disinterested affections (founded on Hartley's ex- 
planation of their growth) — to a fresh moral basis. 
He charges Bentham with substituting trial by 
consequences for trial by motives.* This is to be 
the groimd of his future defence of the authority 
of conscience. He already appeals from the Utili- 
tarian philosopher to ' the universal sentiments 
and language of mankind.' Nay, the Gospel itself 
is on his side : ' their feelings are in accordance 
with the maxim, "If ye do good to them that do 
good to you, what thank have ye ? " ' The slow 
change of theology started from an ethical root, 
from new values for the moral and spiritual affections. 
The refuser of the Regium Donum and the expos- 
itor of Priestley was early marked out for distinction 

1 First published in the Repository, 1833. 
^Repository, pp. 612-624. 

3 In criticising Dr. Wardlaw's Christian Ethics in the same year, 
he laid it down that ' Moral philosophy proposes, as its end, 
the perfection of man as a voluntary being ; it aims at the 
creation of a perfect system of voluntary action, and such an 
adjustment of the internal dispositions as will best secure it.' 
Note to the Unitarian Association Sermon, 1834, p. 32. 

§ii] SERMON IN LONDON, 1834 I49 

among the members of his denomination. In March, 
1833, he was called to a great gathering at Birming- 
ham in commemoration of the Centenary of Priestley's 
birth ;^ and in the following year he preached the 
anniversary sermon of the Unitarian Association in 
London.^ Before a society constituted on a theo- 
logical basis he chose a cognate theme, the relation 
of theology to religion, or, after the elaborate 
phrasing of an earlier day, ' The Existing State of 
Theology as an Intellectual Pursuit, and Religion 
as a Moral Influence.' The discourse is noteworthy 
for several reasons. How swift is the development 
of his powers ! Here are the beginnings of epigram, 
of irony, and metaphor, which were afterwards so 
sorely to bewilder his critics ; here the rich and 
sustained eloquence which sounds so often in his 
writings like a mighty diapason note through 
harmonies of reason and emotion ; here the back- 
ground of historical and scientific knowledge ; here 
the appeals to poetry and imagination as the true 
helpers in the interpretation of the great theological 
constructions of the past ; here the outlook to the 
devotions of other schools of religious thought 
and life ; here the definite demand that theology 
must be ' scientific,' and the clear implication that 
its real data are not, after all, to be found in outward 
events, but in the inner drama of the soul's affections ; 
and here the impassioned protest against sectarian- 
ism, and the prophecy of a fellowship in which 
their ' little community of reformers ' should be 

1 For his attitude on this occasion, see chap. VII. § ii. 

2 At South Place, Finsbury, the scene of the ministry of his 
revered friend. Rev. W. J. Fox. 


' lost in the wide fraternity of enlightened and 
benevolent men.' The student of science feared 
nothing that astronomy or geology could teach — 
' Through what a host of difficulties, amid what a 
storm of hostility, had geology to struggle into 
existence ! With what countless absurdities of 
speculation was it long encumbered, what incredible 
distortion of facts ! And all that the dates of the 
Old Testament might remain intact ! ' A new 
sympathy spoke in the words — ' It is the spirit of 
the soul's natural piety to alight on whatever is 
beautiful and touching in every faith, and take there 

its secret draught of pure and fresh emotion 

Who does not feel the refreshment, when some 
stream of pure poetry, like Heber's, winds into the 
desert of theology ! when some flash of genius, 
like that of Chalmers, darts through its dull atmos- 
phere ! some strains of eloquence, like those of 
Channing, float from a distance on its heavy silence ' ! 
The author of the sentence — ' They desire to reach 
the end of this long and hard theological ascent, 
and, resting on the elevation to which it should 
conduct them, gaze down on the outspread scenery 
of life and Providence, and watch the gliding of its 
shadows, and trace the streams of its mighty ten- 
dencies ' — had not wandered among the hills, and 
read Wordsworth, for nothing. The spirit of some- 
thing more than the enthusiastic young Whig 
reformer begets the exhortation — ' While theologians 
are discussing the evidences of creeds, let teachers 
be conducting them to their applications. Let 
their respective sources of feeling and conception 
be unfolded before the soul of mankind ; let it 

§ii] SERMON IN LONDON, 1834 15I 

be tried what mental energy they can inspire, what 
purity of moral perception infuse, what dignity of 
principle erect, what toils of philanthropy sustain.' 
And the preacher must have moved far from the 
psychology of Hartley and Mill towards the idealism 
of his favourite Plato, who could conclude his sermon 
with such an image as this — ' Like the ethereal waves 
whose inconceivable rapidity and number are said 
to impart the sensation of vision, the undulations 
of opinion are speeding on to produce the perception 
of truth : they are the infinitely complex and delicate 
movements of that universal Human Mind, whose 
quiescence is darkness — whose agitation, light.'"- 

The first definite notes of departure from the 
traditional Unitarian position as he himself had 
expounded it at his Dublin ordination,^ were sounded 
in the little book which soon made him widely known, 
The Rationale of Religious Inquiry.^ These six 
lectures on the question of the true foundations of 
religious belief, delivered at the close of 1835, 
involved the same kind of survey as his latest treatise 
on The Seat of Authority in Religion, but the point 
of view was by no means identical. After five and 
forty years there wiU be the same general line of 
argument against the pleas for an infallible church 
or an infallible Scripture ; but the whole conception 
of revelation will have changed ; German anti- 

i Contemporary reports describe the sermon as ' a highly 
original, philosophical, and energetic discourse,' Christian 
Reformer, 1834, p. 420 ; ' a most eloquent, philosophical, and 
animated discourse,' Unitarian Magazine and Chronicle, p. 173. 

^ Ante, pp. 64-66. 

3 Or, the Question stated of Reason, the Bible, and the Church, 1836 


supematuralism will be dreaded no more ; Christ- 
ianity will be disentangled from the envelopment 
of imhistorical accretions ; and instead of being 
conceived as a system of truths announced by 
Messiah and divinely accredited by miracle, will 
be presented as a religion personally realised in the 
holiest soul of human kind, around whom his disciples 
threw the investiture of a Messianic dignity which he 
had himself disowned. 

The point at which Mr. Martineau diverged from 
contemporary Unitarianism, was not so much in his 
estimate of the Evangelists — ' perfectly human, 
though recording superhuman events '^ — as in his 
frank erection of the claim of reason to control 
revelation. The language of an elder generation 
had been explicit -^ whatever is taught by the Bible 
must be unquestioningly received ; prove that the 
doctrine of the Trinity lies in its pages, and all 
difficulties of reason are immediately silenced.' 
This position Mr. Martineau now formally abandoned. 
In the lecture on Rationalism he affirmed that ' no 
seeming inspiration can estabHsh anything contrary 
to reason ; that the last appeal, in all researches 
into rehgious truth, must be to the judgments of 
the human mind ; that against these judgments 
Scripture cannot have any authority, for upon its 

1 See a similar phrase in the Sermon preached at the 50th 
Anniversary of Manchester College, January 24, 1835 ; ' the 
Sacred Writings are perfectly human in their origin, though 
recording superhuman events,' Essays, iv. 366. The passage 
is interesting as marking the definite adieu to an older and no 
onger tenable position. 

2 See ante, chap. IV. p. 102. 

3 For the language of Dr. Carpenter, see the Rationale, p. 240. 


authority they themselves decide.'^ The Unitarians, 
he observed, ' have repeatedly said : if we could 
find the doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement, 
and everlasting torments in the Scriptures, we 
should believe them ; we reject them, not because 
we deem them unreasonable, but because we perceive 
them to be unscriptural. For my own part, I 
confess myself unable to adopt this language.'* 
When further he denounced the method of interpre- 
tation in which he had been brought up — ' The 
Unitarian takes with him the persuasion that nothing 
can be scriptural which is not rational and universal, 
and he finds a preceptive system in which local and 
circumstantial beauties are frittered into cold 
ethical generalities, and a doctrinal theory, in which 
burning Orientalisms are turned into pale and 
sickly truisms,' — suspicion awoke wrath ;^ and the 
curious definition of revelation as ' an anticipation 
only of science ' excited angry protest. Vainly did 
he deny the Christian name to those who themselves 
denied the miracles ;* his critics were not appeased. 

^Rationale, p. 127. ^Rationale, p. 117. 

3 In this matter he could already formulate the well-known 
maxim of Jowett : aflSrming that ' the business of the understanding 
in the interpretation of Scripture is the same as in the case of any 
other book, to furnish itself well with all such knowledge of lan- 
guage, of history, of localities, of the sentiments of the age and 
nation, as may have any bearings upon the writings ; and then to 
give itself freely up to the impression which they convey, without 
any attempt to modify it by any notions, whether derived from 
an ecclesiastical creed or an individual theory, previously in 
the mind.' Rationale , p. 115, ist ed. 

* An interesting note, containing a criticism on a well-known 
Evangelical writer. Dr. Wardlaw, indicates his future way of 
escape : ' If indeed the essential features of Christianity are to 
be found in the doctrinal or preceptive parts of the scripture, 
it is difficult to deny to any one who holds the doctrines and 


Yet the book contains many hints that his mind 
will not permanently remain just at that poise. 
He was rebuked for destroying all external authority : 
he cannot yet reply by pointing to an authority 
within, for he has not yet investigated the real 
nature, scope, powers, and source, of reason. But 
he does present reUgion in lofty language as a 
' form of truth,' a ' form of emotion,' and a ' prin- 
ciple of duty,' as ' the last and noblest exercise of 
reason and love and conscience.'^ What these 
energies really were, the studies of the next few 
years were to disclose to him. 

The closing lecture, delivered on the last Sunday 
of December, 1835, was devoted to a brief sketch of 
the influence of Christianity on hmnan morality and 
civilisation. By its sentiment of universal brother- 
hood, observed the preacher, it has produced the 
benevolence of class to class. To this kind of 
activity Mr. Martineau attached great importance. 
The question was by what agencies and in what 
forms it could be most effectively promoted. The 

venerates the precepts he finds there, the title of Christian ; and 
it is only on the supposition of the religion of Christ being 
essentially historical, that we can make a belief in the facts the 
basis of our definition,' p. 246. It is still ' doctrine ' and ' pre- 
cept ' ; the source from which these issue, the real person, has 
hardly yet (in the face of Hartley and James Mill) come into view. 
A hint, however, is given in the reference (p. 32) to the voice at 
the baptism and the transfiguration, ' distinctly singling out 
the one infallible point, when they pronounce him beloved, 
the object of perfect moral approbation, the image of finished excel 
lence,' etc. Compare the language of the College Jubilee sermon, 
' thus to pass belund the veil of antiquity, is the only method of 
rising to a genuine appreciation of the mind of Christ, or of attaun- 
ing a clear vision of the perfect reUgion which it enshrines,' 
Essays, etc., iv. p. 367. 

^Rationale, pp. 150-1. 

§ ii] SOCIAL DUTY 155 

following year, 1836, was to see the foundation of an 
institution for this purpose. On the one hand, 
Mr. Martineau had steeped himself in the conceptions 
of the new science of Political Economy ;^ and to its 
severer methods — after a period of agitated dis- 
satisfaction — he remained constant all his life. 
On the other hand, he was profoundly moved by 
ideas of social duty, and, though not feeling himself 
called into the field of active service among the 
poor and suffering, he recognised the Christian claim, 
and sought anxiously to fulfil it. The Boston Uni- 
tarians, under the inspiration of Channing, and 
through the remarkable initiative of Dr. Tuckerman, 
had worked out a practical scheme of ministry 
among the poor. Mr. Martineau's own aid had been 
sought by Mr. W. J. Fox when similar eflEorts were 
set on foot in London by the Unitarian Association. 
In 1834 a proposal to sever this missionary labour 
from its direction was earnestly resisted by him 
(at the meeting after his sermon), on the ground 
that it was the only object which redeemed the 
Association from the charge of indifference to the 
actual wants of the people. There were two classes 
of evidence, he added, on which religion depended ; 
one was to be found in Scripture, the other in the 
adaptation of religion to men's social condition. 
He was prepared, therefore, to feel the full effect 
of the stimulating presence of Dr. Tuckerman, 

1 To him by no means ' dismal.' In his sermon on Halley's 
Comet, there is an emphatic expression of the hopes which 
Adam Smith's teaching had inspired. Essays, iv. 349. Writing 
as an ' adopted Hibernian ' to Dr. Carpenter from Dublin, Sept. 9, 
1830, he said, ' I believe that Mr. Hume and the Economists can 
do more for us than we can do for ourselves.' 


who visited Liverpool in the spring of 1834, and 
stayed at the hospitable home of Mr. Rathbone 
at Greenbank.^ The minister of Renshaw St. 
Chapel, the Rev. John Hamilton Thom, to whom 
Mr. Martineau was already bound by fraternal 
sympathy and friendship,^ took the opportunity 
on Christmas Day, 1835, to preach a sermon urging 
the estabUshment of a Domestic Mission in Liverpool, 
The lectures afterwards printed in the Rationale 
were drawing to a close, and at the earliest practicable 
date, the preacher asked his friend to repeat the 
sermon in Paradise Street. No time was lost. On 
Good Friday, 1836, a meeting was held at Renshaw 
St., under the presidency of Mr. Rathbone, to 
establish the new Mission ; when the speeches of the 
two young ministers produced a profound impres- 
sion.^ Succeeding years brought inevitable changes 
of the original plan ; but whether in Liverpool, 
or in later days in London, Mr. Martineau adhered 
to the view that these Missions, with the various 
agencies which gathered round them, more nearly 
realised his ideal for the discharge of Christian 
social duty than any other institutions which the 
nineteenth century produced. To the last they 
enlisted his untiring support. 

1 For a brief account of Dr. Tuckennan, and another American 
visitor, Mr. Jonathan Phillips, the friend of Channing, see the 
Preface to A Spiritual Faith, p. xv. ' Their benevolent and 
devout enthusiasm came upon us like the angel descending 
to stir the sleeping waters, and their recital of what was being 
done to uplift and evangeUse the neglected classes in Boston 
fell as a convicting and converting word, and yet a word of hope 
and zeal, upon our conscience.' 

* See p. 161. 3 Christian Reformer, 1836, p. 571. 

$ iu] HOME-LIFE 157 


Around the study in Mount Street where all these 
labours had their centre, gathered a rich and various 
life. Other children were added to the sister and 
brother who were brought from Ireland, till, in ten 
years, a family of seven brought their daily joys and 
cares. For these the father toiled unceasingly, super- 
intending their lessons, and sharing their pleasures as 
far as his busy life permitted. From their earliest 
years they were placed in the closest touch with 
reality. The little RusseU, making enquiries about 
the destination of his food, is referred by his mother 
to the ' bone-man,' and next morning ' Papa ' gives 
him a lesson on a much- treasured skeleton. From 
Dublin Mr. Martineau had brought Priestley's 
electrical machine, which no doubt played its part 
in the home-teachings ; and the lessons on physical 
geography were remembered with especial deUght, 
as the children were set to draw the outlines of 
different countries with the help of lines of latitude 
and longitude upon a blank slate globe. They 
noticed, too, — what they understood better in after 
years, — ^how these early instructions ' were char- 
acterised by the truest sympathy, and a remarkable 
power of placing himself in the position of the young 
learner, and adapting his illustrations to the capacity 
of each child.' ^ EngUsh grammar he taught upon 

1 Family reminiscences. Liverpool provided one help in its 
shipping. ' The children still talk of Aunt Harriet and the ship,' 
wrote Mr. Martineau to his sister Harriet, after she had sailed 
for America. ' Baby is such a wise little chatterer that she 
has lost almost all title to the name of Baby, and this is weU, 
as there may be a new claimant to the appellation in August. 
R. promises to be thoughtful and intelligent beyond my hope, 


a plan of his own ; and Greek followed, before Latin, 
as he thought it best to take the most difficult 
language first.^ There were joyous holiday seasons, 
and happy festival days ; the year sometimes seemed 
to the busy mother who could not control its flight, 
only a succession of birthdays -^ and Christmas Day, 
even under William IV., must have its hoUy tree in a 
tub, covered with oranges and apples, and white paper 
parcels sealed and directed, no doubt with exquisite 
neatness. The interests of a large family circle 
brought constant visitors to Mount St. ; first one 
sister, and then another, settled in Liverpool ; the 
eldest. Miss Rachel Martineau, in 1837 opening a 
school of rare educational value, in which her brother 
rendered active help. Sometimes the friendly sisters 
Yates brought mother and children to Farmfield, 
and the father divided his time between town and 
country homes. ' James not only bears it,' shrewdly 
observed the watchful wife, ' he makes the best of it, 
and enjoys a great deal of it. For last Sunday he 
wrote his pre-existence sermon, a glorious work, 
and one which I rejoiced imusually in his achieving, 
because it had been long in his mind, and he was fuU 
of apprehensions about it.' Opportunities of travel 
were rare, but one summer Mr. Martineau accom- 

and his entire confidence in us gives him a thorough transparency 
and truth, which may be made the foundation of a noble morale. 
As for little I., she is a true girl, volatile, original, sensitive, 
the cause of the greatest amusement, and the greatest difficulty, 
of the set.' 

^ The daughter who records this answer to her question why, 
when they were young, they learned Greek first, expresses her 
surprise that it was supposed to be the harder. Life, i. p. 79. 

* These were celebrated not only with gifts, but with excursions 
into the country or on the river. 


panied the Misses Yates to Switzerland. Usually 
the summer holidays saw the whole family among 
the hills, where Mr. Martineau could indulge his 
scientific tastes, resume his botanical studies, or, 
hammer in hand and ' Phillips ' in his pocket, 
could wander over the mountains, and roughly 
work out the geology of the district.^ 

To the duties of the congregation and the home 
were soon added various classes which enabled 
Mr. Martineau at once to increase his income and 
to exercise his rare gift of teaching. In the autumn 
after his settlement he has already students in 
mental philosophy and algebra, with whom his 
wife finds time to associate herself ; and younger 
pupils gather round in enlarging numbers.^ His 
notebooks contain traces of preparation for lectures 
on chemistry and astronomy delivered gratuitously at 
the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution ; and the abun- 
dance of scientific metaphor in his writings illustrates 
his practical familiarity with studies that usually 
lie outside the range of the minister of religion. 
All this added to his efficiency as a teacher, which 
impressed young men and women alike. The son 
of his colleague at Paradise St. thus afterwards 
recalled ineffaceable memories : — 

The Rev. James Martineau was not handsome, but what 

1 Thus in 1836 at Llanberis he was three times on the top of 
Snowdon (' sublime beyond all conception,' of the ascent from 
Capel Curig), and devoted much time and calculation to mountain 

2 At one time his engagement? were so numerous that one of 
his young men's classes assembled at his house at 7 a.m. The 
diary shows that there was an occasional difficulty in getting 
ready the coffee with which students were welcomed to a dis- 
cussion of Thomas Brown's theory of causation, or other topics 


a splendid fellow he was ! . ... I loved that man ; I studied 
wiUi tiJTTi for a year or two, and whatever is good in me 
I date to that time, and for it honour him. He taught me 
to think ; I followed his flowing periods, flowery eloquence, and 
close reasoning with an appreciation, veneration, and attention, 
I have never felt for man since ; for he fascinated my expanding 
intellect, because he had not only a great brsiin, but a great 
heart. I have lived a useless Ufetime since then, but at least I 
have never forgotten that prince among men."- 

Among the gracious women who either then, 
or later, came under the same influence, and found 
in it the beginnings of life-long friendship. Miss 
Anna Swanwick, the sisters Susanna and Catherine 
Winkworth, Miss Julia Wedgwood, have all borne 
testimony to its inspiring power. 'When Mr. 
Martineau first came to Liverpool,' wrote a friend 
to Miss Swanwick, ' my mind seemed to be suddenly 
opened. I saw things I had never before even 
imagined. I took an interest in things I could not 
appreciate before he came ; in fact every day I 
felt myself to be acquiring new powers and interests. 
I look back to that time as the happiest part of my 
life, and most thoroughly did I enjoy it.'^ 

Around the home lay a growing circle of intimacies, 
in which Mr. Martineau was destined to find increas- 
ing support. For elder friends. Dr. Lant Carpenter 

1 Pictures of the Past, by Francis H. Grundy, C.E., 1879, p. 45, 
* Anna Swanwick, a Memoir and Recollections, by M. L. Bruce. 
1903, p. 23. When Miss Swanwick published her first volume 
of translations from the German in 1843, she sent a copy to her 
old teacher. In acknowledging the gift Mr. Martineau says that 
from its perusal he will ' see whether severer pursuits, to which 
hard necessity too much limits me, have quite killed out the 
passionate love of poetry that haunted my earlier days. Of 
one thing I feel sure : that you will not change my old preference 
(so ignorant in the eyes of the thorough Teutonic) of Schiller over 
Goethe.' This preference was shared by Mr. Martineau with 
J. S. Mill, from whose estimates, however, as will appear later on, 
Mr. Martineau was more and more to dissent. 


and Mr. W. J. Fox, his veneration never flagged. 
Within reach at Manchester were old fellow-students, 
Mr. Gaskell and Mr. J. R. Beard, who kept alive 
the memories of College days. His own distinction 
in that band was indicated by his selection as 
preacher, in conjunction with the Rev. John Kenrick, 
at the CoUege Jubilee in 1836. At Manchester, 
too, was the Rev. John James Tayler, with whom 
he was to be associated for all but thirty years 
in partnership of professorial labours. A difference 
of ten years in age was no barrier to complete sym- 
pathy of purpose ; from his friend's large and 
catholic spirit James Martineau was to draw con- 
tinually growing help. In Liverpool itself Mr. 
Charles Wicksteed was minister at the Ancient 
Chapel, when Mr. Martineau first settled there ;^ 
and at Renshaw St. the Rev. J. Hamilton Thom 
had begun the ministry which was to outlast Mr. 
Martineau's Liverpool service. Mr. Thom was 
of Irish birth and education, and could enter at 
once into the difficulties which had terminated 
Mr. Martineau's Dublin career. Bred in the Ulster 
Arianism, he slowly modified his early theological 
conceptions, and prepared himself to comprehend 
and appreciate, if he could not always follow, Mr. 
Martineau's movement of progressive change. A 
trained scholar, he nevertheless had not the imperious 
scientific demand for historic reality which marked 
Mr. Martineau's mind. He dwelt habitually in 
a region of exalted spiritual life, which gave to his 
preaching a peculiarly searching character. With 

1 After his removal to Leeds, his pulpit was filled by the 
Rev. Hairy Giles. • 



this were combined graces of humour, and a capacity 
for just indignation, which, on the one hand, made 
his speeches full of charm, and, on the other, stirred 
the deeps of feeling, either in public address or 
private intercourse. To him James Martineau was 
knit in the most devoted friendship of his life. 
Through Mr. Thom and the circle at Greenbank 
Mr. Martineau became acquainted with Blanco 
White.^ The acquaintance was not altogether 
without difficulty, at least in the later stages of 
Mr. White's theological movement, but it had con- 
siderable effect on Mr. Martineau.^ At the opening 
of their intimacy Mr. Martineau enjoyed to the full 
the rich variety of intercourse to which he was 
thus introduced ; and one sacred recollection seemed 
in after-days to hallow all the past. ' For me the 
memory of his sensitive features, grave expression, 
and deliberate speech, is inseparably associated 
with a dedication service at home in November, 
1835, in which he consecrated our infant boy Herbert, 
a consecration perfected in death eleven years 
later.'^ Mr. White came from the archiepiscopal 

iSeetheZ.»/« of Blanco WAtte, edited by Mr. Thom, 3 vols., 1845. 

2 Mr. White criticised the refusal of the Christian name to those 
who denied the miracles, in the Rationale. To this Mr. Martineau 
replied in the preface to the second edition, which appeared 
before the close of 1836. Christianity was still the name of a 
particular belief. The movement of his mind is indicated in the 
letters cited below in chaps. VI. and VIT. By 1840 he had come 
round to Mr. White's view, though be did not state it till the third 
edition of the Rationale in 1845. 

» Preface to A Spiritual Faith, -p. xvii. After the appearance 
of Mr. Thom's Life of his friend, Mr. Martineau wrote to Mary 
Carpenter, May 30, 1845, ' I understand Archbishop Whately 
is very angry at the publication, though it was expressly enjoined 
by Mr. White himself, and provision made for accomplishing the 
purpose. The Archbishop speaks of him as having been " partially 


table at Dublin ; but if Liverpool was the natural 
gateway from Ireland, it was no less the chief 
place of landing or departure for American visitors. 
The visit of Mr. Jonathan Phillips and Dr. Tucker- 
man in 1834 has been already mentioned. The 
year before Ralph Waldo Emerson had arrived with 
introductions from Prof. Henry Ware ; and from 
New York came Dr. OrviUe Dewey. For Emerson 
Mr. Martineau had a strong personal affection, but 
while he afterwards followed the movement of New 
England Transcendentalism with close attention, he 
found the Essays of the New England seer lacking 
in continuity of systematic thought, and they did 
not appeal to him with the force which he recognised 
in Channing. With Dr. Dewey he formed an endur- 
ing friendship, which produced in after years an 
intimate though intermittent correspondence. 

Of some of these relations we gain a glimpse 
in a letter to Mr. Wicksteed, then on a visit, with 
Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Yates, to Rome. 

Liverpool, Dec. 17th, 1834. 
Dearly beloved Brother of Toxteth, 

With a head empty of news and a heart having nothing better 
for you than the stale offerings of friendship, I have no excuse 

deranged." This really is too bad. Mr. White had no doubt 
constitutional peculiarities which affected — I think, in an un- 
healthy way, — his modes of reflection and judgment. But so 
have we all ; and Whately has no reason to pronounce these 
idiosyncracies derangement, except that they were different 
from his own. The great fault in Mr. White's mind was, its 
critical character ; which almost ran its sensibility into querulous- 
ness, and rendered all his changes of opinion repulsions from 
falsehood and deformity, rather than attractions to a new light 
of beauty and truth. But how natural this in one who, with 
such endowments, and such sincerity, was trained in a Church 
system which was no better than an " organised hypocrisy," 
and forced into habits of suspicion in everything connected with 


for inditing an epistle, unless it be to guard your young mind 
from the abominations of Popery, and your ambitious head 
from the attractions of a cardinal's hat. Since, however,, the 
Tories assure us (see Lord Keizer's last lucubration on the Apo- 
calypse, O'Connell, and the Pope) that in a few years not a 
Protestant will be left in these islands, I recommend you to make 
the best terms you can with the venerable establishment under 
whose shadow you will read this. We hold our second meeting 
with our Manchester brethren^ in that dirty town on Saturday 
next, when brother Thorn and I mean to call the Bishop of Cross 
St. to account for having done nothing about the Hewley business,^ 
after having himself proposed that the funds should be ready for 
distribution by Christmas. Indeed, in spite of that good gentle- 
man having, as you remember, made himself and the Provincials 
merry at our expense in the summer, all the work in this matter 
has Mtherto been done at the west end of the railway. My dear 
fellow, how you must despise all this chit-chat, and spurn it 
from you with the boast. Vidimus flavum Tiberim I How could 
I think of writing about our Presbyterian mendicity to the banks 
of the Tiber ? Forgive me that I forget our difEereuce of position 
for a moment ; that, while I squat myself down in my armchair 
in Mount Street in full view of the joiner's shop, you wander 
near the cradle and the grave of the ancient civilisation of the 
West, dreaming of the wondrous contrasts presented by his 
majesty, the Capitol, and his reverence, the Vatican, — the republic 
and the papacy, Brennus and Buonaparte, Cicero and Paul. 
Possis, as Horace says to the sun, nihil urbe Roma visere majus. 
What the sun may think of the matter, it is impossible to tell ; 
but if you like anything better than the city of the Caesars, and 
talk, as Mr. Dewey did, of nothing but the dirty streets, I shall set 
you down with the Yankees, as one who, in the sublimest monu- 
ment of history, can think more of the cleanliness of the present 
than of the grandeur of the past, and prefer a whitewash to the 

mould of time The church naturally reminds a man 

of my politics of the state. I do not know with what facility 
you obtain British news : lest you should have a difficulty 
I wiU tell you that last night it was announced that Sir R. Peel 
is Chancellor of Exchequer and Premier, Duke of W. Foreign 

Secretary Other appointments of less importance I do 

not mention ; you have a goodly specimen here, and see what 
we have to expect. The party in power will gain greatly by the 

1 These meetings were organised for ministerial fellowship and 
co-operation every quarter. In a letter to Mr. Gaskell, May 4 
(probably 1836), Mr. Martineau summons ' the Manchester 
brethren ' (Gaskell, Beard, Tayler, and Mr. Robberds) to rusticate 
with him in his ' last days of pastoral life in Toxteth Park ' 
(i.e. at Farmfield). They were to dine at four o'clock. 

2 See below, chap. VII. 

§ iu] FRIENDSHIPS 165 

elections. The contest in Liverpool will be very severe. . . . 
Here I am at the end of my paper and you at the end of your 
taedium. I must tell you, however, that I had a letter yesterday 
from my sister Harriet, written from Dr. Priestley's place of 
r«fuge and his tomb, Northumberland, Pennsylvania, whither 
she had made a pilgrimage, and where she had gathered some 
interesting traditions of the good philosopher. H. sends her 
kindest remembrances to you and (with mine) to Mr. and Mrs. Y. 
Ever, dear friend, thine fraternally, 

James Martineau. 

One other friendship may be named here, which 
brought with it literary and philosophical interests 
belonging to a different circle. Mr. Martineau's 
contributions to the Monthly Repository attracted , 
the attention of Sir WiUiam Molesworth and Mr. 
John Stuart Mill, the latter being also one of Mr. ; 
Fox's helpers in the same periodical.^ ' On the 
establishment of the London Review,'' wrote Dr. 
Martineau in 1888,* ' I was asked by him and 
Sir W. Molesworth to be one of their staff of con-j 
tributors ;^ and though too busy to write often for! 
them, was in frequent communication with Mill, always j 
calling on him at the Old India House, when I wasj 
in town, and occasionally meeting at Charles BuUer'sl 
and elsewhere.' A glimpse into what Mill supposed' 
his correspondent's position to be, is afforded by a 
letter dated from the India House, May 26, 1835. 

1 Among his articles were the papers on Poetry reproduced in 
his Dissertations. ' The latter,' said Dr. Martineau to Mr. W. j 
L. Courtney, ' I have the more reason to remember, because I 
I was incidentally the means of their production.' In writing to 
Mr. Martineau (1835) MiU mentioned that they had been suggested \ 
by speculations propounded in the last two pages of the Essay 
on Priestley. 

2 To Mr. Courtney, then at work upon a study of Mill. 

3 Sir WiUiam Molesworth' s letter mentions Blanco White, 
E. L. Bulwer, Charles Austin, and others. 


In the opinions you express respecting a Church Establishment 
I entirely agree, and though some of the habitual contributors 
to the review still difier from us',-the general tone of the review 
will, I have reason to hope, ti& that which you approve. A 
considerable change is, I think, tating place in the tone of think- 
ing of the instructed Radicals on that point. Indeed, as they 
have (very generally) so far departed from Adam Smith's doc- 
trines as not to admit the voluntary principle even with respect 
to secular education, it would be very strange if they admitted 
it with regard to religious. The mistake, I think, is in applying 
the test to the doctrines which the clergy shall teach, instead of 
applying it to their qualifications as teachers, and to the spirit 
in which they teach. When you give a man a diploma as a 
physician, you do not bind him to follow a prescribed method ; 
you merely assure yourself of his being duly acquainted with 
what is known or believed on the subject, and of his having 
competent powers of mind. I would do the same with clergy- 
men One of the most important objects which the 

review could be instrumental to, would be to discredit dogmatic 
religion and encourage the boldest spirit of rationalism. This 
too is the spirit which is spreading among the young and culti- 
vated members of the English clergy. This I know from my 
acquaintance with some striking instances of it. There will 
shortly appear a posthumous work of Coleridge (which I saw in 
manuscript before his death) altogether smashing the doctrine 
of plenary inspiration, and the notion that the Bible was dictated 
by the Almighty, or is to be exempt from the same canons of 
criticism which we apply to books of human origin.^ 

Looking back upon these early days, Dr. Mar- 
tineau found the habit of Review writing thus begun 
' conducive to vigilance and exactitude in study,' 
and, ' when kept in due subordination,' the best 
expenditure of aU spare time.^ But among the 
contributions to the London Review he preserved 
none afterwards as having any permanent worth. 

1 This at length appeared in 1840 under the title Confessions 
of an Inquiring Spirit. 

2 Biographical Memoranda, Life, vol. i. 72. 



The opening years of Mr. Martineau's ministry 
in Liverpool were marked, as has been already 
described, by rapidly maturing power. His activities 
of thought were spread over a wide field ; and their 
operation was at first most conspicuous in modify- 
ing his theological conceptions of the nature of 
Revelation and the significance of Christianity. 
But as these changes advanced, it became more 
and more clear that they depended on new inter- 
pretations of personal experience ; and must be 
ultimately justified, if they were justified at all, 
neither in a court of historical inquiry nor of religious 
rationalism, but by fresh estimates of the contents 
of human nature. To the psychological method 
in philosophy Mr. Martineau remained constant 
all his hf e : he regarded it as the distinctively English 
treatment in contrast with the deductive schemes 
of ancient Greece or modem Germany. He made 
no secret of the fact that the great evolution in 
his thought which conducted him out of his dis- 
cipleship to Priestley, and set him in ethical suc- 
cession to Butler and Kant, had no other origin 


than his own processes of self-reflection.^ To follow 
these processes in detail is no longer possible ; but 
some attempt must be made to indicate their 
sources, to estimate their significance, and to trace 
the consequences to which they gradually led. 

For ten years James Martineau had lived in willing 
adhesion to the principles of Priestley when, in 
1834, he was called on to review the posthumous 
work of Bentham on Deontology.^ The classification 
of ethical systems contained in this essay is repeated 
in an undated outline of a course of lectures on 
' Moral Philosophy,' in which he ranges himself 
unhesitatingly with those who find the ' criterion 
of right ' in ' the tendency of an action to promote 
the happiness of the agent.' Nevertheless, in the 
stress which he lays, against Bentham, on the reality 
and worth of the disinterested affections, he is in 
reality preparing the way for a wholly new set of ■ 
moral values* : — 

Show them that in his acts of kindness a man is looking to his 
own ends, that he is meditating a draught on the good-will 
fund, and the spell of admiration is broken : it may be all very 

^ ' It was the irresistible pleading of the moral consciousness 
which first drove me to rebel against the limits of the merely 

scientific conception The secret misgivings which I had 

always felt at either discarding or perverting the terms which 
constitute the vocabulary of character — " responsibility," " guilt," 
" merit," " duty,"— came to a head, and insisted upon speaking 
out and being heard.' — Types of Ethical Theory, i., pref. p. xii. 

2 Cp. ante, chap. V. p. 148. 

3 Monthly Repository, 1834, p. 623. This must be remembered 
by readers who may be too readily disposed to accept his later 
estimate of himself in these years as ' some tight swathed logical 


well ; he may be a shrewd iellow enough, and wonderfully long- 
sighted, but as for generosity or benevolence this banking system 
will never win such praise. And the people are not wrong. 
There is no delusion in the beUef that thousands of kind actions 
are performed every day, which are not ofiered to society as 
deposits to be posted in its books, but tendered in the pure 
spirit of a free gift ; acts silent, unseen, let fall where they can 
never bear a harvest of praise, acts to the child, to the outcast, 
to the insane, to the dying. The impulse which produces all 
that the heart most loves in virtue, which bears on such men as 
Howard and Washington, is an impulse from within, inspiring 
them with a love not of praise, but of praiseworthiness, and, 
instead of leading them to look abroad for their reward, enabling 
them to stand alone and yet erect in the mere strength of a high 
purpose. Scepticism of such forms of virtue wQl gradually 
degrade all the nobility of human language, as well as mar the 
purest sympathies of human life. 

It is in accordance with this view that in his 
early lectures he appeals to Clarke, Shaftesbury, 
Hutcheson, and above aU to Butler, on behalf of 
the reality of disinterestedness ; and while he 
apparently knows nothing of Kant, justifies himself 
against the denials of Hobbes on the one hand, 
and the mystical excesses of Fenelon and Mme. 
Guion on the other. But he takes his stand in 
opposition to Butler on the question of the origin 
of the moral sentiments : he will not admit that 
they are primary or ' instinctive.' An instinct 
should exhibit three marks, {a) uniformity through- 
dut a species, (6) incapacity of gradation, (c) in- 
susceptibility of growth. None of these char- 
acteristics, however, belongs to the moral sentiments ; 
while the arguments derived from their apparent 
simplicity, and from the supposed meanness of their 

prig, in whose jerky confidence and angular mimicry of life I ; 
am humbled to recognise the image of myself.' Types of Ethical i 
Theory, vol. i., preface. Truly did his friend Mr. Thom (who had 
first Imown him in this period) say that his ' spiritual identity ' 
had never changed. 


origin if they are not freshly planted in the soul 
by the Creator's hand, are alike inconclusive.^ 

The exhibition of the associative process by which 
' the experience of life conducts to the formation 
of a moral sense,' finds a place for ' the application 
to morals of the ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.' 
To this aesthetic appreciation of what is noble and 
lofty in character, the young preacher appeals 
again and again in the succeeding years. It is 
the gate by which he will pass into new realms 
of thought. Already in 1835 he can declare that 
God is the ' illimitable fount of the beautiful and 
perfect ' ;* and he ' who framed the human mind, 

knew that there are in us two human hearts, 

the one the residence of interest and self, the other 
enshrining the vitality of love ; that within our 
coarse and common nature there is an interior 
recess, the retreat of a thousand pure and viewless 
emotions, where lurk unconsciously susceptibilities 
to moral beauty, and indistinct longings after moral 
excellence, and tendencies to penitence, and affec- 

^ A reference to Phrenology at this point of the ' Outline ' 
shows that he was already considerably interested in speculations 
concerning the physical basis of thought. In April, 1830, he 
had written to Dr. Lant Carpenter, after meeting Spurzheim 
in Dublin : ' He is a very interesting man, in private and in 
the lecture-room. I want evidence on the subject at present, 
and am neither believer nor disbeliever. I cannot help thinking 
that there is not the hostility which the Phrenological and 
Metaphysical Schools imagine between the old mental philosophy 
and Dr. Spurzheim's new system.' Six years later Mr. J. S. 
Mill wrote to him, ' I think of phrenology very much as you do. 
A really philosophical review of Combe's book would, I think, 
be much read and talked about, and I know no one so competent 
to write it as you.' 

2 MS., Sept. 13, 1835. 


tions ready to spring towards the immortal.'^ 
Traces of the Priestleyan language still linger in the 
Rationale of the same year : but there, the revolt 
against Eudsemonism has plainly begun. The next 
year the contemporary Unitarian will be presented 
as a Pharisee of the intellect : ' There is a compla- 
cency of disbelief no less than of belief ; a pride in 
detecting the fallacies of other men's creeds ; a 
piety that never prays without hinting at the highly 
rational character of its worship ' ;2 while the con- 
trasted piety of the Publican renders the thought 
of God ' the vast receptacle of all its imaginations 
of the fair, the holy, the tender, the majestic.'^ 
The description of Jesus ' with whom negligence, 
and unkindness, and the sleep of indulgence, and the 
insensibility to wrong, and exclusion from the spec- 
tacle of sorrow, and life itself at the price of com- 
promise, would have been the utmost torture of 
self-denial, the crushing of his most craving desires,' 
— may stiU be susceptible of the utilitarian inter- 
pretation.* Yet another twelve-month, however, 
and the early College scheme of twelve years before, 
which resolved all movements of the human mind, 
as well as of the physical universe, into the direct 
agency of God,^ is formally discarded, because all 
distinct personality and voluntary activity, the 
essential marks of character, are in reality denied 

1 National Duties and other Sermons, p. 255. In the same year 
he describes the evolution of man's character ; ' in the gradual 
erection of a voluntary power over his whole nature, his elevation 
into a nobler bdng will mainly consist ' (MS., Feb. 15). 

'Ibid., p. 152, 1836. ^ Ibid., p. 156. 

* Ibid., p. 182, 1836. 5 See ante, chap. II. p. 50. 


to him ;i and the equal source of evil as of good 
has no claim to the august name of ' Holy.' In 
his plea for the doctrine of justification by faith, 
belonging to the same year, 1837,^ the moral protest 
against an intellectual religion is practically complete, 
and an ethical test is substituted in its place.* 

Many influences no doubt contributed to this 
change. The growth of his own nature carried him 
beyond the limits of early education ; nothing but 
his deep-seated reverences could have detained him 
within them so long. The repeated collocation of 
the ' fair and good ' imphes that he is already 
learning of Plato the transcendent character of 
ethical ideals. Wordsworth and Coleridge are his 
two favourite poets.* Carlyle has begim his pas- 
sionate protests against Benthamism ; and twenty 
years later Martineau could say that to the succeed- 
ing age it might appear that Carlyle had become a 
greater power than any theologian of the time.^ 
The evangelical doctrine by which he was confronted 
in Liverpool, wounds his sense of justice ; but its 
piety awakes the distant echoes of early years, 
when he read the books of Wilberforce and Hannah 
More ; he is haunted by a ' deep sense of personal 
imperfection ' which breaks forth again emd again 
in the language of penitence, aspiration, and en- 

1 National Duties and other Sermons, p. 226, 1837. 

2 Ibid., p. 130. 

* To this year belongs a sermon (MS.) founded on John v. 30, 
and entitled ' Out of Self we can produce nothing," which de- 
liberately renounces Utilitarianism. 

* The only two named in a list of Uterature drawn up for the 
family reading of one of his congregation. Cp. infra, chap. XV. 

» Speech at Liverpool, June 19, 1856. 


deavour ; the Wesley hymns have stirred the 
profoundest recesses of his being ; and his persistent 
New Testament studies have led him to find new 
meanings in the language of Paul. Moreover, 
with the readiness to receive fresh impressions 
which characterised him to the last, he is perpetually 
reshaping his ideas in contact with the young minds 
around him. The teacher's function Isrought him 
face to face with early problems of experience, 
which did not always fit the moulds which he pro- 
vided for them ; and in attempting to satisfy the 
demands of others, he slowly modified the funda- 
mental conceptions of his own thought.^ 

On his scientific studies, indeed, he retained 
a firm grasp ; but from the system of cause and 
effect in the outward world he gradually withdrew 
the interior range of activities, which he came to 
view as the proper manifestation of character out 
of the hidden sphere of personality. When he denies 
that ' any intensity of desire can carry us aloft at 
once,' and pleads that ' step by step must the ascent 
be won, often, like the journeys of Paul, through 
perils of the wilderness, in weariness and watching,'^ 
he is again enforcing demands for effort, which his 
psychology of association and his ethics of individual 

^ To this element in the Teacher's life he attached great value. 
See his reference to its importance in his own mental history, 
Types of Ethical Theory, vol. i. preface. In a conversation with 
Miss Wedgwood after his ninetieth birthday, he expressed his 
regret that Mr. J. S. Mill had never himself had this discipline ; 
believing that he would have gained so much if he had ever 
engaged in the endeavour to instil what he thought true into the 
minds of the young, ' where one often sees objections that would 
never have occurred to oneself.' 

2 National Duties and other Sermons, p. 259 : 1835. ■ 


eudaemonism could not justify. In such moods 
he is ready to give fresh hearing to the Transatlantic 
voice, to which he had formerly preferred the English 
Belsham. Listen to the proclamation of the Christ- 
ian's duty — ' To set up within our mind an ideal 
of perfected goodness, the very image of Christ, 
to aim at expressing its beauty in the life, and, 
in spite of failure, to renew the faithful effort day 
by day, to feel a fresh penitence at every fall, and 
rise again saddened but not defeated,'^ and you 
detect the devotional idiom, not of the follower of 
Priestley, but of the student of Channing. 

' When the tones of the New England prophet 
reached us here, why,' he asked a generation later,* 
' did they so stir our hearts ? ' The answer recalls 
the impressions of this period : ' They brought a 
new language ; they burst into a forgotten chamber 
of the soul ; they recalled natural faiths which had 
been explained away, and boldly appealed to feelings 
which had been struck down ; they touched the 
springs of a sleeping enthusiasm, and carried us for- 
ward from the outer temple of devout science to 
the inner shrine of self-denpng Duty.' With Chan- 
ning's sense of moral beauty Martineau was now 
brought into immediate sjmipathy ; and it prepared 
him to receive the further doctrine of human nature 
as the seat of heavenly powers, where Conscience 
sat enthroned, at once ' a Revelation and a Type 
of God.' Useless was it, he once observed,* for a 

1 National Duties and other Sermons, p. 261 ; 1835. 

* 'Three Stages of Unitarian Theology,' 1869 ; Essays, iv. 576, 

3 Speech at the Channing Centenary, St. James's Hall, 1880. 


Hartley or a Helvetius [may we not in this connexion 
say a James Mill ?] to preach the originality and 
supremacy of self-love to affections like Channing's ; 
he knew the possibility, the obligation, the privilege, 
of living for others, of free self-sacrifice, of identifica- 
tion with God's infinite love ; and once possessed 
of this knowledge, could never be persuaded to give 
humanity a lower aim. From Channing, then, did 
James Martineau leam with new meanings the 
profound lesson of religion, that ' moral perfection 
is the essence of God, and the supreme end for man.' 
It carried with it far-reaching consequences. It 
transformed the conception of Revelation ; from 
the communication of objective truths by a heaven- 
accredited messenger, the function of Christ came 
to be interpreted as the manifestation of the divine 
character under the limits of humanity, which 
received its attestation from the witness of the 
soul within.^ It elevated the person of Jesus into 
a centre of supreme reverence and affection as the 
' image of God ' ; and enabled the disciple to 
preserve his moral homage undisturbed, in spite 
of the plainest intellectual limitations in the object 
of his spiritual faith. 

But not only was the significance of Christianity 
thus raised and glorified, a fresh foundation was 
laid in the conscience, and its executive agent, 
the wiU, for the theory of Man and God. When 
once the fact of obligation rose into clear recognition 
as the core of moral experience, the human spirit 

* See the first approaches to this position in the Rationale, 
already cited, ante, chap. V. p. 153*, and its full statement in 
the Liverpool controversy, infra, p. 180. 


acquired a new dignity. Man is himself a cause ; 
different in scale, indeed, from the Creator ; but 
resembling him in capacity to perceive the same 
distinctions between good and evil. These are no 
products of our pleasures and pains ; they have 
their roots in the Eternal Mind ; and the good we 
know shares in the majesty of Infinite Holiness 
and Everlasting Right. But if Man is not involved 
in the vast sequences of the scientific order, if he 
is invested with rights and submitted to obligations, 
his causal power is exercised through preference ; 
choice is the act of will ; and Will becomes the 
supreme tjrpe of all causality.^ Channing was no 
systematic thinker : he was not concerned to give 
philosophic form and coherence to the truths which 
were spiritually discerned. To Martineau this was 
an imperious intellectual need. He had been, as 
it were, possessed by Priestley, because, in the 
philosopher's teaching, he found a scientific unity 
providing an adequate interpretation of the physical 
world. The experience of life had now forced him to 
recognise a world within. He awoke to its meaning 
almost as with a sudden shock. The reaction was 
complete.^ He had found in human nature a new key 
which he would apply to Man, God, and the Universe. 

J- ' William EUery Channing,' Essays, i. 112. 

2 See the passage quoted from the Liverpool Lectures, infra, 
p. 182. In his sermon on Channing's death, Nov. 6, 1842, he 
thus emphasized the religious rather than the philosophical gain : 
' However many may be still unmelted by the fervour of his faith, 
he has at least convinced us that we are cold, and to not a few' 
he has brought an inwardness and spirituality of religion, a 
sanctity and tenderness of moral experience, a generous and 
hopeful estimate of human things, by which their whole character 
has been transformed.' 



The years in which external activity and internal 
change were thus at work in the preacher of Paradise 
St., were years of rapidly growing influence. Already 
in 1837 the Wesleyan Conference was urged to make 
special appointments at Liverpool in consequence 
of the presence there of the brilliant Martineau.* 
When the British Association met there in September, 
Mrs. Martineau noted, ' We have had open house, 
beginning with a great breakfast party every day 
this week, and shall have to its close.' And, with 
wifely pride, she went on to record her attendance 
at two great public functions ' in a beautiful new 
dress which my husband put me up to procuring.' 
The following year the family outgrew their first 
home in Mount Street, and moved to a larger house 
in Mason Street, Edgehill. 

It was ' next door to Dr. RafSes,' relates Dr. Martineau,^ 
' who was always a pleasant neighbour. In the same terrace 
lived Rev. Mr. Hull, the liberal incumbent of the Church for the 
Blind. The street for the most part belonged to an eccentric old 
man, who picked his tenants by unaccountable whims of fancy. 
On my applying for the house, he kept me in suspense while he 
catechised me in the drollest way to find out who I was : at last 
he said, " Yes, sir, you shall have it ; and then with the Rev. 
Mr. Hull, the Rev. Dr. RafiSes, and the Rev. Mr. Martineau, 
it will be strange if we have not a trinity that will keep the devil 
out of the street." On the credit of this function I remained 
there seven years ; and there my youngest son and daughter 
were bom." 

The sentiment of ecclesiastical partnership implied 
in this arrangement with the landlord, was not 

^ Gregory, Side Lighis on the Conflicts of Methodism, 1899, p. 
247 ; quoted by Rev. Alx. Gordon, Diet, of Nat. Biography. 

2 Biographical Memoranda, Life, i. 97. 


generally entertained in Liverpool. The position 
of the two congregations under the ministry of Mr. 
Martineau and Mr. Thom was so conspicuous, by 
the distinction of their pastors and the social and 
civic eminence of their members, that some effort, 
it was felt, must be made to warn the Unitarians 
against their own danger, and the public at large 
against the perils of being misled by them. On 
Jan. 21, 1839, the Rev. Fielding Ould, ' Minister of 
Christ Church,' issued an address ' to all who call 
themselves Unitarians in the town and neighbour- 
hood of Liverpool,' announcing that he and his 
reverend brethren were about to undertake ' an 
enquiry into, and an endeavour to expose, the 
false philosophy and dangerous unsoundness of the 
Unitarian system.' The result was a controversy 
involving a long correspondence, which imposed 
no hght strain on its chief author.^ Thirteen 
lectures were delivered in Christ Church on Wednes- 
day evenings, beginning on February 6. The 
counter-statements were made from the Paradise 
Street pulpit on the successive Tuesdays. Five 
of these fell to Mr. Martineau's share ; Mr. Thom, 
and Mr. Giles of Toxteth Park, each contributing 
four. Mr. Martineau's ordinary work went on as 
usual, his Sunday services with their tributary 
classes, his week-day teaching whether at home, 
or at the newly founded school of his sister Rachel, 
or at the elementary schools maintained by his 
congregation. Wednesday evening was devoted 

1 The language of modem theological debate happily exhibits 
less acrimony than was then deemed legitimate. 


to attendance in the ' condemned pew ' at Christ 
Church, in preparation for the ensuing week's 
discourse. The lectures were printed as fast as 
possible, sometimes with extensive notes, the pro- 
duct of much learning. ' More than a three months' 
turmoil of spirit has been forced upon us,' wrote 
Mrs. Martmeau ruefully on her husband's birthday, 
April 21. He was just recovering from a serious 
attack : ' Oh, how ill he was this day week, yet 
preached in the morning, and went on, hoping to 
patch himself up for his Tuesday evening's contro- 
versial lecture. But it would not do ; that lecture 
had to be put off.'^ His vigour, however, returned ; 
and no one would surmise that the concluding lectures 
were written under the shadow of sickness. 

Full of brilHant exposition, incisive criticism, 
and noble eloquence,^ these lectures are interesting 
rather as marking the movements of the author's 
mind than as permanent discussions of themes 
now vital. They are directed against conceptions 
of the Bible that have passed away, — Evangelical 
presentations of the Atonement that no longer sway 
men's minds, Tractarian pleadings that have assumed 
other shapes. The most novel in its treatment was 
the discourse entitled ' The Scheme of Vicarious 
Redemption Inconsistent with itself,' which allowed 

1 The attendance at Paradise St. never quite recovered from 
the shock. 

2 The Eclectic Review, Dec, 1840, p. 667, dwelt on ' the power 
and refinement of his understanding, the beauty and brilliancy 
of his imagination, and the chasteness and force of hjs style.' 
The Congregational Magazine, March, 1841, called him ' the 
English Channing,' and noted ' his singular freedom from sectarian 
bias, his courageous pursuit of truth.' 


the preacher full play for his unrivalled power of 
detecting the weak places in an opponent's system, 
as well as for his passionate protest against a doctrine 
profaning, as he understood it, the great moral 
qualities which render God himself most venerable. 
Fresh in the field of Unitarian theology was his 
exposition of the significance given by the Apostle 
Paul to the death of Christ, in connexion with the 
scope of his work for all mankind. Had a Messianic 
reign been set up in his lifetime, he argued, the 
Gentiles must have been excluded : — 

The Messiah must cease to be Je\dsh, before he could become 
universal ; and this implied his death, by which alone the per- 
sonal relations, which made him the property of a nation, could 
be annihilated. To this he submitted : he disrobed himself of 
his corporeality, he became an immortal spirit ; thereby instantly 
burst his religion open to the dimensions of the world ; and as 
he ascended to the skies, sent it forth to scatter the seeds of 
blessing over the field of the world, long ploughed with cares, 
and moist with griefe, and softened now to nourish in its bosom 
the tree of Life. 

More significant for the future was the obvious 
fact that since the Rationale a great movement of 
thought has taken place. The old conception of 
Revelation as a communication of truth, certified 
by miracles, is practically abandoned. In its place 
appears a new principle, approached before, now 
definitely realised ;— that Revelation is effected 
through character, that its appeal is to the con- 
science and affections, and its real seat is a soul. 
Accordingly we hear for the first time of the ' internal 
or self-evidence of Christianity ' ; stress is laid on 
the spiritual attraction of Christ ; his power is 
not in his precepts, but in his person ; it is even said 
that ' apart from him, his teachings do but take 

§ii] LECTURE ON MORAL EVIL, 1839 181 

their place with the sublimest efforts of speculation, 
to be admired and forgotten with the colloquies 
of Socrates, and the meditations of Plato.' The 
reason is that James Martineau has at last broken 
definitely with his old master, Priestley. The 
rehgion of causation, the religion of the understand- 
ing, satisfies him no more. The universe, indeed, 
is still the measure of the scale of Deity ; but Christ 
has filled it with his own spirit : ' it is as the type 
of God, the human image of the everlasting Mind, 
that Christ becomes an object of our Faith' He 
sets aside Priestley's argument, therefore, from the 
miraculous acts to the doctrinal inspiration of Chris- 
tianity. Miracles are indeed still facts, but their 
significance is not to guarantee a truth, but to call 
attention to a person. The result will be inevitable ; 
you may be a Christian without them.^ 

Most marked of all was the elaborate argument 
of the lecture on ' The Christian View of Moral Evil ' 
against the conception of Philosophical Necessity, 
in which he formally abandoned the doctrine which 
had been slowly undermined m the preceding years. 
At the outset he strikes a fresh note : ' The primi- 
tive conception of God is acquired, I believe, without 
reasoning, and emerges from the affections ; it is 
a transcript of our own emotions, — an investiture 
of them with external personality and infinite 
magnitude.' Reasoning about causation produces 
a secondary idea out of the intellect. The result is 
a collision between the intellectual idea of ' God 

1 He was not yet prepared for this inference, though he soon 
reached it ; see the letter to Mr. Macdonald, behw, chap. VII. 


the Creator,' and the moral notion of ' God the Holy 
watch of virtue.' To resolve this conflict is the 
object of the lecture : and the solution is found in a 
declaration of ethical individualism as uncompromis- 
ing as was ever penned : — 

Let each consider his own life as an indivisible unit of responsi- 
bility, no less complete, no less free, no less invested with solemn 
and solitary power, than if he dwelt, and always had dwelt, 
in the universe alone with God. There is confided to him, the 
sole rule of a vast and immortal world within ; whose order can 
be preserved or violated, whose peace secured or sacrificed, by 
no foreign influence. We cannot, by ancestral or historical 
relations, renounce our own free-will, or escape one iota of its 
awful trusts. No faith which fails to keep this truth distinct 
and prominent, no faith which shuffles with the sinner's moral 
identity, contains the requisites of a ' doctrine according to 

God has thus ceased to be for him, with Priestley, 
' the Only Cause,' the ' ultimate happiness Maker, 
by no means fastidious in his application of means, 
but secure of producing the end ' ; he has discovered 
that under the Necessarian representation God 
' no longer remains a really holy object of thought ' ; 
he has learned of Plato to call him not only ' the 
supremely good,' but also ' the supremely fair.' 
There is alike an ethical and an aesthetic revolt 
against the imphed doctrine that man's mutual 
injuries and crimes are the chosen method of the 
Divine government. The spectacle of such desola- 
tion affronts him ; the Right and the Beautiful are 
both violated ; and the force of protest carries him 
to the utmost Umits of opposition to his early trust.^ 

1 On June 4 a meeting of the congregations of the three Lec- 
turers was held in Paradise Street Chapel, when warm resolutions 
of gratitude were paissed to aU three disputants. To Mr. Swinton 
Boult (who had forwarded them), Mr. Martineau wrote, — ' To 

§ii] LETTER TO CHANNING, 184O 183 

This was at once noted by Dr. Channing, when 
the printed lecture reached Boston. ' Nothing,' 
he wrote (Nov. 29, 1839), ' for a long time has given 
me so much pleasure, I have felt that that doctrine, 
with its natural connections, was a millstone round 
the neck of Unitarianism in England.'^ To this 
letter James Martineau next summer sent the follow- 
ing reply.^ 

[Between July 18 and September 7, 1840.] 

I have long reproached myself for having never 
expressed to you the delight and gratitude which you 
awakened in me by your friendly criticism on my lecture 
on ' Moral EvU.' I have been constantly expecting, 
however, the opportunity of sending to my American 

be so sustained, not merely by the assurances of personal regard, 
but by the suffrages of sound and well-informed judgments, — 
judgments incapable of approving of anything wrong in feelings 
and unsupported by reason and Christianity, may well compensate 
us for the railings of an intolerant but triumphant theology, and 
the anxieties of a highly responsible yet unpopular position.' 
On January 14, 1840, a joint letter in Mr. Martineau's hand- 
writing conveys his own thanks and those of Mr. Thom to the 
three congregations for ' munificent acknowledgment of their 
labours ' (a presentation-inscription to Mr. Martineau recorded 
a gift of £iS°)' The following words indicate his attitude: — 
' In these times of mingled fanaticism and fear, it is animating to 
find, and an honour to sustain, a Church not refusing to go forward 
in the spirit of a Progressive Christianity, and having such entire 
trust in the God who was manifested in Christ, as to be first 
to yield to the sincere persuasions of reason and conscience, 
and the last to cower beneath the alarms of superstition or the 
menaces of intolerance.' 

^Memoir, vol. u. p. 444. In England the lectures were ignored 
by the chief Unitarian periodical, the Christian Reformer, after an 
announcement of the opening of the controversy. The year 
before, Mr. Martineau's speech at the Aggregate Meeting of the 
denomination had given great ofience, (see below, chap. VII.). 
The Christian Teacher was now in the hands of Mr. Thom, and 
his editorship precluded any review. 

* Transcribed without date or place in Mrs, Martineau's diary. 


friends a few copies of the accompanying publication >; 
and my letter of acknowledgment to you having once 
been deposited by my imagination in that parcel, has 
sufiEered postponement with every new delay from 
printers and binders. Nothing, except the natural 
peace of truth-loving and truth-speaking, could have 
given me a higher satisfaction than your sympathy and 
approbation ; which were the more welcome because 
the views which I hold on the subject of moral evil 
meet with no response from my brethren in this country, 
and are considered as a sort of eccentric departure from 
the recognised Unitarian authority of the last genera- 
tion. The truth is that, notwithstanding repeated 
denials in oiu- journals and in English editions of your 
works, your celebrated estimate of Dr. Priestley's 
influence on the development of Unitcirian Christianity 
in this country, is essentially correct ; if less correct now 
than at the time of its first pubUcation, this is mainly 
owing to the profound impression which your writings 
have produced for many years. It is quite true that 
we have no habitual reference to the opinions of Dr. 
Priestley, or Mr. Belsham, as to those of acknowledged 
leaders : we have many examples in our sectarian 
hterature of departure from them in detail, and perhaps 
a very few of dissent from their fundamental speculative 
principles. Nevertheless, their influence has practically 
determined the whole form of our theology, and what 
is more to be lamented, the general spirit of our religion. 
No one can well owe a deeper debt of gratitude than 
I do to the writings of Priestley, to which I attribute 
not only my first call to the pursuit of reUgious philo- 
sophy, but the first personal struggles after the reUgious 
life. For many years I was an ardent disciple of his 
school, and I should think myself a castaway if I ever 
ceased to admire his extraordinary powers, and venerate 
his faithful use of them. Yet do I feel persuaded that 

* Hymns for the Christian Church and Home, see chap. VIII. 

JiiJ LETTER to CHANNING, 184O 185 

his metaphysical system is incapable of continued union 
with any true and deeply operative sentiments of 
religion ; that it is at variance with the characteristic 
ideas of Christianity ; and will spontaneously vanish 
whenever our churches become really worshipping 
assemblies, instead of simply moral, polemical, or 
dissenting societies. 

It is quite obvious, however, that great changes are 
silently going on in our religious body — as in all others — 
in this country ; changes which are very likely, I think, 
to bring it to dissolution, not, however, without first 
scattering the seeds of some nobler growth. The most 
remarkable feature of those changes is this ; that there 
is a simultaneous increase, in the very same class of 
minds, of theological doubt and of devotional affection ; 
there is far less belief, yet far more faith, than there was 
twenty years ago. Alarm at one half of this pheno- 
menon, and insensibility to the other, have led appar- 
ently, among the professors of the old Orthodox 
Unitarianism, to a somewhat more dogmatic temper, 
and a less fresh and more traditional administration 
of Christianity. Whilst this consolidates the forces 
peculiarly their own, it iails to meet the various wants 
and earnest difficulties of those whose minds become 
involved in the movement ; of these, again, there 
appear to me to be two perfectly distinct classes. There 
is a set of mere antisupematurahsts chiefly proceeding 
from the phrenological school, or from the numerous 
ranks of thinkers indirectly created by it. To these, 
the discovery of an organ of wonder in the brain explains 
the origin of all accounts of miracles, whilst the organ of 
veneration makes it quite proper to be devout. Their 
faith is, accordingly, rather in the religiousness of man, 
than in the reality of God, respecting whom it seems 
very doubtful whether they would have much concerned 
themselves, had it not been for the cerebral provision of 
the thought of him ; but something must be done, or at 
least said, in order to satisfy this. I need not say that 


in such a style of thought, there can be no real earnest- 
ness, but only those spurious imitations of living religion 
which, in the end, turn out to be all that a materialistic 
philosophy can produce. In this case, however, there is 
great personal amiableness, considerable, though un- 
disciplined, intellectual activity, and much social and 
popular exertion particularly for the diffusion of scientific 
knowledge among the masses of the people. An 
' Enquiry into the Origin of Christianity,' by Mr. 
Hennell (of Mr. Aspland's congregation. Hackney), may 
be considered as representing, very favourably, the 
character of this school ^; and although Mr. Fox is a 
man of too much force of mind to belong exclusively 
to them, his influence more nearly coincides with theirs 
than with any other. I believe that they are very 
numerous among us, and likely to increase. 

The class just noticed appear to me to have gladly 
availed themselves of the recent investigations which, 
in Germany especially, have thrown doubts upon the 
strict authenticity of the Gospels ; and in order to 
justify a previous disinclination to believe in miracles, 
to have seized upon results of whose soundness they 
have hardly the learning to judge. We have, however, 
another class, who, having really followed the re- 
searches in question, have very reluctantly come to the 
conclus'on that Lardner's and Paley's theory of authen- 
ticity is not solid enough to sustain the weight of 
Christianity ; that there is too much obscurity about 
the kind of testimony which we have in the historical 
books of the New Testament, to stake everything upon 
its certainty and exactitude ; that to attempt to prove 
the miracles by appeal to evidence which, judged by 
mere external rules, is to a large extent anonymous, and 

1 Writing on ' the Creed of Christendom ' (by Mr. W. R. Greg) 
in 185 1, Mr. Martineau spoke of this book as follows : ' its influ- 
ence, considerable in itself, and increased by the sweet and truthful 
character of the author, is still traceable in the pages of Mr. 
Greg.' Studies of Christianity, p. 269. 

§ii] LETTER TO CHANNING, 1840 l8i7 

then from the miracles to prove the doctrinal infallibility 
of Christ, is a process full of difiiculty and micertainty. 
Yet these enquirers feel the impossibility of disentangling 
the miraculous from the natural parts of the evangelic 
narratives, and strongly object to the rude mechanical 
divulsion of these from each other by the anti-super- 
naturalists ; nor have they apparently the slightest 
repugnance of feeling, rather the contrary, to the 
reception of miracles. Simultaneously with this dimin- 
ished reliance upon the merely externa] evidence, has 
arisen a profounder sense of the intrinsically divine 
character of Christianity ; a more penetrating apprecia- 
tion of the mind of Christ ; a more trustful faith in him 
for his own sake, and because he carries his own witness 
into the inmost reason and conscience. This, you wUl 
perhaps say, is something like the ' intuitive perception ' 
of the truth of Christianity,' which Prof. Norton treats 
with so much scorn. No doubt there is some resem- 
blance in the spirit of the two sentiments. But, judging 
from what I have read of the Boston controversy, I must 
say that the class of which I speak, differs widely from 
the corresponding one in Boston ; making no pretensions 
to any new system of philosophy ; being conscious 
perhaps of a somewhat unstable and transitional state 
of mind, and acknowledging that time will be required 
before they can see their way clearly. Meanwhile, they 
dwell principally on the spiritual and moral elements of 
Christianity, permitting the miracles to follow rather 
than lead these. Receiving the miracles themselves, 
they refuse to make the reception of them the test of a 
man's Christianity, maintaining that as these events 
are in any view but instruments for producing a faith 
in our Lord's divine authority, this faith, however 
procured, must make the Christian, and entitle to the 
name, though it flow from other considerations than the 
belief in miracles. This class is also on the increase 
among us. With an undoubted danger of mysticism 
(which, however, the practical turn of the English mind 


will probably check), there appears to me more deep and 
earnest religion among them than has hitherto charac- 
terised English Unitarianism. From want of any strong 
attachment to a dogmatic system, they are deficient in 
anything like sectarian zeal ; and from a somewhat 
over-refined and scrupulous order of sympathies, they 
are apt to shrink too much from social and public 
activity. The Christian Teacher, edited by my friend 
Mr. Thom, may be considered as to a great extent the 
organ of this school, and Mr. J. J. Tayler, of Manchester, 
as its most accomplished representative. 


The movement of his thought during this period 
may be further illustrated by letters which answer 
objections or meet difficulties suggested by more 
formal utterance. 

To Mary Carpenter, Bristol.* 

Perhaps if we were to compare notes very closely, we 
should not so much differ about the miracle question. 
It strikes me that you are hardly aware how niuch of 
your language on this matter is purely figurative. Thus, 
a miracle makes a distinction between the performer 
and other men, by establishing that he is from God : but 
then, are other men not from God ; or less from God ? 
In point of origin, all things, all persons, all offices, all 
ideas, are equal and immediate derivatives from the 
Supreme will, without slur in their design, or foreign 
admixture in their production. Whatever sanctity is 
imparted by their Source and Causation, belongs alike 
to all ; unless you admit some Satanic, or material, or 

1 The letter, with unusual carelessness, bears neither date nor 
address, but is endorsed by the receiver, ' Feb., 1841.' The 
first part dealt with a scheme of a Congregational Visiting Society, 
carried out at Bristol, and is quoted below, chap. VIII. 


other extraneous causes lying outside the Hmits of 
Providence from which objects unrecognised by God 
might be sent into existence. The distinction then of 
beings as to divinity of origin is surely verbal only, having 
nothing corresponding to it in reality. Yet it is evidently 
only this sort of divinity that a supernatural event can 
establish, the very argument consisting in an inference 
from the act to the only Source that could produce it. 
The true divinity of any thing seems to me to be, not in 
its origin (wherein all things are equal) but in its intrinsic 
character and influence ; in its internal beauty, truth, 
sanctity (wherein things are separated by differences 
quite infinite) : of this no external assurance can even 
be imagined ; — every fancied proof of the sort referring 
you back to the idea of mere origin from God. This 
kind of divine element in a person or a sentiment can 
only, I think, be ' spiritually discerned,' and was never 
otherwise made known to any one's soul, however 
famUiarized to his lips and forms of thought. After this 
reception of Christ for his own sake, his miracles may 
be believed ; but I doubt whether there ever was a mind 
in which this order was inverted. After the havoc which 
modem investigation has made with the old doctrine 
(which I think no judicious person can longer maintain 
with any confidence) of the genuineness (i.e., personal 
authorship by apostles or apostolic men) of the Gospels, 
it seems to me impossible to maintain the authority of 
Christianity on purely historical and testimonial grounds ; 
and that the internal evidence to which I refer must, to 
say the least, take the primary place. However, Christ 
himself has given the choice : — ' If ye believe on me, 
believe the works ' ; some of us take the first half of the 
alternative, others, the second, as the essence of our 

And now what is to become of your definition of 
poetry, at this forlorn end of my note ? Alas for 
definitions ! If you turn to Dr. Reid's Essays you will 
find that almost the words in which you define poetry 


constitute his definition of — the five Senses ! In truth 
I am glad to find that poetry cannot be defined : for I am 
persuaded that anything that can has nothing sacred in 
it, but belongs to the mere finite and scientific portion 
of our nature. So let us put down poetry with Religion, 
Goodness, Love ; which, transcending, and having 
authority over our understanding, refuse to be surveyed 
and enclosed by it. We are all well and send love to 
your family circle. 

Ever, my dear Mary, 

Your affectionate friend, 

James Martineau. 

To the Rev. George Crabbe. 

Liverpool, October 25th, 1845. 
Reverend and dear Sir, — 

I have been inexcusably long in answering your 
gratifying and interesting letter. To the fault of delay 
I will not add the offence of self -justification or fruitless 
apology : but, in reliance on your forbearing disposition, 
proceed at once to the main subject of interest between 

In your general position that mere textual controversy 
can never settle the points at issue between the Unitarians 
and their Orthodox opponents, I entirely concur. No 
doubt there is a preliminary question to be set at rest 
as to the degree and kind of authority to be conceded 
to the Scriptures : and a controversy between two 
parties secretly at variance on this preliminary is an 
aimless battle of the blind. That the Unitarians in 
general do differ from other churches on this point ; 
that they see a much larger human element in the sacred 
writings ; that they are more prepared to acknowledge 
the manifest discrepancies in the historical portions and 
inconclusive reasonings in the doctrinal ; that, practi- 
cally, their submission to Scripture is conditional on its 
teaching no nonsense, I am fully persuaded. And believ- 


ing this to be their state of mind — often ill-defined to 
themselves — I cannot but disapprove as insincere their 
professions of agreement with the orthodox on every- 
thing except Interpretation ; their appeal to the 
Scriptures under the misleading name of ' The Word of 
God ' ; their affected horror at every one who plainly 
speaks about the Bible the truths which they themselves 
if they would dare to confess it, privately hold ; and the 
various other artifices of theological convention, by 
which they delude themselves, and hang out false colours 
to the world. To this moral untruthfulness, and the 
unreality it gives to their position, much more than to 
their errors and unsoundness as interpreters, do I 
attribute the small amount of their success as a religious 
sect. I believe indeed, with you, that their interpreta- 
tions of the writings of the Apostles John and Paul are 
altogether untenable ; and that, so long as the people 
gather their theological faith, without discrimination, 
from the Epistles and 4th Gospel, our doctrines cannot 
prevail. But then, I am unable to accept the other half 
of your proposition ; I cannot admit that, because the 
Unitarians, as interpreters, are wrong, the Evangelicals 
are right. If the Apostle Paul could come and bear one 
of Hugh McNeile's Sermons, I am persuaded he would 
be aghast with indignation, and protest vehemently 
against the wretched perversion of his letters to the early 
churches. So long as both parties take for granted that 
Paul, with full knowledge of the destinies of Christianity 
as the religion of successive ages, wrote on the theory 
of human nature in its moral relations to God, and laid 
down universal truths as the scheme of the Divine 
Government from the Creation to the Judgment, so long 
both parties must go astray. No just view can, in my 
opinion, be reached, till it is remembered that the 
Apostle wrote everything, judged everything, from an 
erroneous assumption as to the approaching end of the 
world. This is not a slight matter, which can be put 
iaside as an incidental imperfection in his opinions. From 

192 THEOLOGICAL CHAl^GE [ch. vi 

its very nature, so grand, so transporting, it necessarily 
absorbed everything into it ; tinged all his theory of the 
Past, and his visions of the Future ; determined his 
estimate of Chri't's mission ; and gave a peculiarity of 
the highest importance to his sentiments in reference to 
the relative position of the Hebrew and the Pagan 
world. From their entirely missing his point of view, 
the Evangelicals appear to me to be no less completely 
wrong than the Unitarians in their interpretation of 
Paul. I do not know whether the publications connected 
with the Liverpool Controversy in 1839 have attracted 
your attention at all : but if they have, you will recognize 
in my present statements the opinions more fully ex- 
pressed in the 5th and 6th Lectures of the Series. Though 
questions of interpretation shrink to a very diminished 
importance, as soon as we cease to stake our faith upon 
them, a clear understanding of what the Apostle Paul 
really meant is more than a matter of ciuiosity. It is a 
vast relief to men accustomed to a Calvinistic reading of 
the Epistles to discover in them, without the sUghtest 
straining, a very different system of ideas, and the 6th 
Lecture to which I refer has, I know, among Joseph 
Barker's people, been the means of bringing hundreds 
over from the ranks of orthodoxy. 

Still, no satisfactory way can be made towards the 
pure truth and the free heart, till the prevalent Bibliola- 
try is overthrown. And, for my own part, I have never 
shrunk and hope I never shall shrink from taking my 
little part in the iconoclastic work. At the same time, 
I so heartily reverence all sincere and earnest religion, 
that the simply destructive procedure of controversy 
is only half -welcome to me and performed with some 
reluctance. I am always ready for it in self-defence ; 
but dishke it as a measure of aggression. To draw forth 
the permanent elements of Christianity from the Scrip- 
tures ; to impart to man such a consciousness of the 
adaptation of these to their nature that all doubt of their 
sufficiency shall become impossible ; to make no disguise 


about the temporary and questionable character of all 
the rest — to attack any inordinate claims set up for it, 
when requisite — but for the most part to let these claims 
die out by forming men's spiritual and moral taste on 
better models and by the constant presence of higher 
ideas ; — this appears to me to be the true course for 
those who love Christianity for what it is, more than they 
dislike its counterfeits for what they are not. Bigots of 
aU classes will refuse a hearing to those who — ^with or 
without a name — ^boldly challenge their favourite 
opinions ; and all other men — such at leeist is my cheer- 
ing faith — are more readily drawn to noble and true 
ideas, than driven from mean and false ones. What 
comparisons, for instance, can there be between the 
amazing influence of Channing on the sentiments of his 
age, and the most brilliant success that could attend on 
any writings that stopped with the disproof of prevalent 
theological errors and superstitions ? I think, however, 
you will admit that I am not chargeable with reserve on 
the question of Inspiration ; and that especially in the 
2nd Lecture of the Liverpool Controversy (' The Bible, 
what is it, and what it is not '), the very sentiments 
to which you attach importance are plainly advanced. 
At all events, my dear sir, I am greatly indebted to 
you for your valuable suggestions. Possibly, if I were 
a man of leisure, I should put them at once into practice. 
But my course of labour — as Minister of a large Congre- 
gation — as Professor in a public College — as an Editor 
of the Prospective Reveiw,^ — and, not least, as father of a 
large family whom I educate at home — ^is very much 
marked out for me ; and I must hope, by faithfulness in 
these several callings, to do incidentsJly some small 
portion of the good work which your kind opinion would 
assign to me by a directer process. 

* For an account of Mr. Martineau's lectureship in Manchester 
New College, and his editorial labours on the Prospective, see 
chap. IX. 



To a brother minister enquiring how far one in 
doubt ought to satisfy himself to remain in the 

Liverpool, October ist, 1842. 

You do not err in supposing that I should feel the 
deepest interest in the case which you have submitted 
for my opinion. The increasing frequency of its occur- 
rence renders a right decision upon it very important, 
not only to LndividuEil peace of mind, but to the future 
destiny of our Churches. Truly shall I rejoice if I can 
render the slightest comfort or guidance to a conscience 
which, it appears, some expressions of mine have tended 
to disturb. The process through which my own mind has 
passed, enables me at least to sympathise deeply in your 
perplexities. Whether this is a quahfication or a dis- 
qualification for judging rightly respecting it, I know not. 

Let me say, in the first place, that I adhere to every 
word of the sentence which you quote as condemning 
you. This I take to be the centre of all moral certainty, 
that there can be no co-existence of religion, much 
less of rehgious operation upon others, with anything 
hke insincerity and pretence. We must get our foot off 
all hollow ground of that sort on to some firm real faith, 
before we can properly live at all, to say nothing of teach- 
ing others how to live : so that no situation can be a part 
of duty which is held on condition of leaving false 
impressions upon others, or suppressing cherished 
convictions of our own. This general rule appears to me 
plain and beyond controversy. 

The application of it, however, to particular cases 
not happening to one's own conscience, is far from easy. 
It by no means appears to me to require that we should 
lay bare in the pulpit all our processes of theological 
research, and the doubts in which the historical criticism 
of the Scriptures may involve us. Even if the pulpit 
were a place for theological instruction instead of for 


religious impression, we ought surely to wait, out of 
pure reverence for truth itself, till we had some clear and 
worthy results to communicate, and consider a mere 
bewilderment in our own thoughts as a call not for speech, 
but for sUence, on the topics that perplex us. But I 
would go further, and say that even the actual results 
of enquiry, when they are of a negative and destructive 
character, ought not to be presented in our public 
services. That which we disbelieve is thereby with- 
drawn from further religious capabDities for us ; and we 
can no longer make it the motto for any living devotion, 
but only the text for mere dead disquisition. It lies 
outside our worship, and has no honest business there any 
more. I do not therefore call this silence ' concealment 
df anything on which we doubt.' When we meet to 
pray, and find some sanctity for our life, no one has any 
right to expect a treatise on what we don't think true ; 
and we profane our duty, if, instead of scattering the 
seed of life, we go about proving that a husk is a husk. 
When occasion arises, either in private society or in direct 
theological teaching, or in controversial publication, 
for bringing our views before minds sufficiently near 
our own to apprehend them, and indeed to make the 
communication natural, then all reservation and disguise 
are surely criminal and false. 

All this, however, proceeds on the supposition that 
when scepticism has done- its worst, the preacher feels 
that he has still a divine gospel to preach. And here 
lies the real difficulty of answering your question : 
' When a man falls into doubt about the miracles, is he 
fit to be a Christian minister ? ' That depends, I should 
reply, on what is left behind with him, when the miracles 
are gone. If he feels that the main ground of his 
religion is gone too, and that though without disbelief, 
he is in unbelief, so that worship and trust and devout 
hope have become dubious and faint, then certainly he 
cannot indicate to others the cardinal points which have 
vanished from himself, and he is disqualified for a 


religious guide of any kind. If, in parting with the 
miracles, he does not part with the great spiritual 
truths to which they had given support, but has a fait! 
as firm as ever in the characteristic sentiments ol 
Christianity, then he has lapsed into no unfitness foi 
a ministry truly sacred ; but whether precisely for the 
Christian ministry depends perhaps upon a yet further 
distinction. A man may hold opinions concurrent with 
the Christian faith without holding them on the Christiar 
tenure. He may see no force in any of the methods by 
which the Christian system would evidence them to 
his mind, and may feel himself indebted to reasonings 
and influences foreign to the Gospel for his repose upon 
them. In this case I could not consider him — ^he could 
not consider himself — a disciple. He holds a natural 
religion accidentally agreeing in its results with Christi- 
anity. But it is quite possible to feel that historical 
doubts about the miracles leave the divine authority of 
Christ untouched ; to own in the inmost heart that 
authority still ; to hold the soul's faith direct from him ; 
and to be conscious that but for the persuasion which 
his inspiration exercises over us we could not reach our 
present belief and trust. One who is in this state of 
mind cannot surely be denied the name of a ' follower of 
Christ.' I would only add that even here a distinction 
must, I think, be drawn between mere philosophical 
scholarship and true religious discipleship. If I yield 
conviction to argument adduced by Christ himself, if he 
has simply indicated the steps of thought by which I may 
satisfy myself of the truths which I now hold, then my 
assent is purely scientific, not sacred, and the relation 
between the master and follower is intellectual, not 
religious. To constitute this further and higher relation, 
the truths imparted must come to me as revelations, 
not as results of reasoning. I must, in some sense, take 
them on trust, and feel that they descend upon me from 
above, instead of being reached by slow ascent from the 
previous level of my knowledge. 


Of all these states of mind Which may be left behind 
notwithstanding all doubts about the miracles, the last 
alone appears to be compatible with the obligations of 
a Christian minister. If I understand you aright, 'tis 
that which you, my dear sir, desire to experience, but 
hardly know how to reconcile with your uncertainties 
about the Gospel-history. And certainly if there be no 
way of reaching a faith in a prophet's inspiration, 
except by external evidence ; if physical miracles are 
the sole credentials of his authority ; if on the detection 
of some error in his modes of thought, we lose all means 
of assuring ourselves of his infallibility in anything ; 
our apprehensions would be only too well founded. It 
is, in my opinion, quite ckar that Jesus largely partook 
of the Messianic notions of his country, and applied 
them to himself — that he expected to return in person 
to this world during that generation and close the 
system of human things, and establish in its place a 
terrestrial theocracy. And as to the miracles, though 
I feel no difficulty in holding to them still, with certain 
special exceptions, yet not one of those which rest for 
their evidence merely on the attestation of the three 
first Gospels or the Book of Acts, can be considered secure 
enough to afford a foundation for anything. But all 
this moves me not at aU ; and so little help should I 
derive from the whole system of external proof, were it 
ever so sound, in discerning the inspirations of Christ, 
that I look upon the miracle controversy as of very 
trivial moment. Did my space allow me to pause, 
I should stop to limit this statement somewhat as regards 
the Resurrection ; but at present this restriction must 
pass unnoticed. Yet though I make this estimate of 
the Anti-supematuralist controversy, I do not hesitate 
to say that the conjunction of something preternatural 
is essential to devout faith; and that without miracle 
there is no religion. To reconcile this apparent contra- 
diction will not be difficult. 

In order to do so, however, I must endeavour to 


communicate in a few words what appears to me to 
be the true idea of a Revelation. For my own part I am 
persuaded that there is only one way in which religion 
can enter a human heart, viz., by the agency of a higher 
soul over a lower, an agency natmral, indefinable, irre- 
sistible. The moments of real consecration to all of us 
are those in which we stand before some being to whom 
we look up as nobler and purer than ourselves, who 
serves the obligations to which we are faithless, and 
quietly bears sufferings from which we shrink. I know 
not how to express my sense of the purifying power of 
this kind of experience. The startling way in which it 
reveals us to ourselves, and places us in reverential 
relation to a holiness higher than our own, the manner 
in which the influence spreads through all the dimensions 
of the soul at once, and fills it with a clearer atmosphere ; 
the gladness with which we own the power of the greater 
spirit over us — appear to me to be peculiar and mys- 
terious. I see no reason to beUeve that a solitary human 
being could reach any reUgious faith whatsoever, either 
by inference from the structure of creation, or by 
internal private consciousness. This great characteristic 
of our nature is not a sdf-Ught belonging separately to 
the constitution of every man ; it must be given to us 
through an external medium of suggestion ; and the 
particular medium whence alone it comes, appears to 
me to be not the material contrivances which we compre- 
hend and so put on a level with us, but the minds we do 
not comprehend and so fed to transcend us, not effects 
which are beneath us, but causes which are above us. 
These we intuitively recognise the instant they fairly 
appear before us ; they exercise a prophetic and divine 
influence over us ; and with deep response of heart we 
become their disciples. Thus it is in the natural and 
conscious subordination of spirit to spirit, in the spon- 
taneous assumption by us all of our rank in the great 
community of souls, that I place the essence and origin 
of all religion. And this view surely is in harmony with 


the general experience of mankind on a large scale, no 
less than with our personal consciousness. All reUgions 
are traditional and historical, not scientific and indivi- 
dual ; gifts from the past, not inventions of the present ; 
and each bears the impress of some one great soxil from 
which it appears as a communicated influence : that 
soul itself, however, owning still an allegiance to some 
earlier object of reverence, and not pretending to break 
the vast chain of spirits through which the flash of 
devout conviction is discharged upon the world from 
the clouds that hang around the birth-hour of our race. 
Protestant Christianity is the influence of Luther's 
transcendent mind ; Luther being the disciple of Paul, 
Paul of Christ ; Christ himself not beginning afresh, 
but tracing his divinest wisdom to the Law and Prophets 
of his forefathers, and worshipping the God of Moses ; 
and Moses still looking back to the guardian Providence 
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ; and so on, till we are 
lost in the region where the human and divine visibly 
and inextricably mix. 

From this view of the source and nature of the religious 
sentiment many considerable consequences might be 
shown to follow. It entirely discourages all hope of 
much influence for any Natural Religion of thePaley 
and Bridgewater Treatise School, and warns us to beware 
of that great mistake. It shows us that, as we aU live 
by communicated religion, we cannot peacefully and 
devoutly subsist without some ' author and finisher of 
faith,' It implies that in all of us there is a power of 
recognising, when presented, a sanctity and truth that 
is above us ; that the highest form of historically realised 
perfection must become our prophet — of ideal perfection, 
our God. It divides all mankind into two classes ; the 
great sequacious mass in which all we lower spirits find 
ourselves, and whose noblest attribute it is that we can 
discern whom we ought to trust ; and the few, in whom 
there is a spontaneous origin, of divine perception and 
holy truth, underived, self-evidencing, authoritative. 


This fresh origination of reUgious discernment is what I 
understand by inspiration ; its communication to other 
minds (not by argument, but by their instinctive 
response to it as what they also discern now that it is put 
before them) is what I understand by Revelation. Any 
one who will reflect on what alone we can really mean by 
inspiration, will, I think, arrive at the idea of it just 
given ; the silent, untraceable, irresistible entrance into 
the soul of sacred thoughts about which doubt and 
question are impossible, and which present themselves 
as infinite realities, solemn as if overheard from some 
soliloquy of God. If, on their utterance, they pierce 
with Uke influence into other minds (and if they can 
evidence themselves to the receiver, why not to others ?), 
and prove true to the souls of multitudes, then they are 
no private communication of the divine Spirit, but 
veritable Revelations, given through one to all. Now 
such inspiration must always appear to us miraculous 
as well as divine. For when we consider what it is that 
makes a miracle, we find that it is simply our inabDity 
to account for it, i.e., to trace it back to any antecedent 
conditions necessitating it ; in other words, its spon- 
taneity. That which we cannot get, before our mind's 
view, into the position of an effect, but which, after all our 
efforts, remains a pure cause, and a cause, moreover, of 
such a kind that its effects are beyond our ken and 
calculation, is miraculous. And all things thus spon- 
taneous we necessarily refer to God, the great source of 
all Causality. A physical change of this kind Uke, the 
spontaneous and instantaneous departure of a deadly 
disease or bodily infirmity, strikes us as from the im- 
mediate ' finger of God ' ; and such are the evangelical 
miracles. A spiritual phenomenon of the same kind, 
e.g., the spontaneous appearance in a human soul, of a 
wisdom and insight like that of Christ, strikes us as from 
the thought of God.^ So long as the facts remain 

1 The diary has ' Christ,' which is manifestly erroneous. 


unaccounted for, they must in either case appear as 
supernatural things. Whoever then thinks he can make 
out that Christ and his rehgion are an intelhgible fffect 
of previous conditions, whoever can speak of them as 
products of the age and circumstances, appears to me 
destitute of the mode of feehng which constitutes 
discipleship. Whoever sees in Christ, on the other 
hand, a pure spontaneous irresolvable cause of the 
divinest truth [and] guidance we possess, is, be his 
theology what it may, his genuine follower. To this 
state of mind in regard to Christ, it is evidently essential 
that he should be regarded as infallible somewhere, and 
worthy of implicit trust. But absolute exemption from 
intellectual error, total separation from the cast of 
thought belonging to his age, is clearly not necessary at 
all. Historically realised perfection (constituting the 
•prophet or divine messenger) is distinguished from ideal 
perfection (constituting the character of Deity) by its 
limitation within the bounding conditions imposed upon 
aU human realities. The relations of our existence 
cannot be assumed without its liabilities. The divinest 
child of God is formed under the compression of time 
and place, and must bear some features of their shape ; 
and Jesus, being actually in some relations of home, of 
society, living in the constant light of natural thought, 
and covered with an oriental atmosphere of life, could 
not remain unaffected by them, an example of action 
without reaction. This partial fallibility is perfectly 
compatible with our idea of divine inspiration. 

I think, then, that I have explained what I mean when 
I say that ' without miracle there is no religion.' To be 
disciples of Christ we must recognise something super- 
natural about him, in the sense before expounded. But 
whether this element of wonder is discerned in his lot, 
in his life, or in his soul, is indifferent to our faith. If, 
while we suspect on critical grounds that miraculous 
acts have been attributed to him which he did not 
perform, we still look upon himself with undiminished 


wonder, veneration, and love, we simply throw back 
upon his mind the miracle that has been withdrawn 
from his history. We do not discard the miracles as 
things that could not be true, but view them rather as 
things that might have been true, though they fail to find 
a sufficient historical basis. We regard them, if not as 
realities themselves, at least as the symbols of a reality 
quite as great, ' signs ' of the wonderfulness there was in 
Christ, of the subduing majesty and power of his spirit, 
of which no adequate impression could otherwise be 
given than by exhibiting material nature and mortal 
suffering crouching and submissive at his feet. Not 
only would I admit such a view to be Christian, but I 
beheve there may be in one who holds it a more true, 
loving, simple discipleship, than in many a hard historical 
believer, who has so little trust in Christ himself as to 
be afraid of losing a grain of recorded miracle respecting 
him. If there be faith in the person, will there be this 
constant and scrupulous reference to his ' credentials ? ' 
I do not know, my dear sir, whether you will find 
yourself described in any of the various states of mind 
which I have endeavoured to indicate. Your own 
statements hardly give me data sufficient for a categorical 
answer ; so I fear that in my desire to comprehend all 
cases with which the assumed conditions of yours 
seemed to agree, I have spread out my attempted solution 
of the problem to a wearisome breadth. Shoidd your 
state of mind be still indeterminate, and have taken none 
of the directions I have imagined, is not the first duty to 
clear away the nebulous condition of thought, and work 
out a conviction sufficiently definite to afford grounds 
for action, continuing meanwhile the exercise of the 
immediate duties of your profession ? I do not think 
that exactly your present mode of thought, being 
apparently a hesitancy or feeling forwards towards 
something ulterior, can long remain ; and if it be a 
transition state only, it has hardly any sufficient title 
to prescribe a tumultuous change affecting your whole 


subsequent practical life. Self-surrender to the im- 
mediate calls of duty day by day, still more than specula- 
tive thought and research, cannot fail to induce a healthier 
and happier tone of mind, especially if the scanty light 
permitted now be trustfully submitted to as a trial not 
unworthy of endurance, while it lasts. Truly shall I 
rejoice in your action, and deeply shall I honour your 
decision (be it what it may), if you obtciin light to find 
the truth, and strength to do the right. 

Believe me, my dear sir, 

Yours very faithfully, 

James Martineau. 





The Irish Unitarians among whom James Mar- 
tineau began his ministry, retained some of the 
elements of Presbyterian organisation. In England 
in spite of a well-marked historic line of descent, 
the external forms had almost whoUy disappeared.^ 
The stress of events had thrown the emphasis of 
interest on the Unitarian theology rather than on 
the spiritual freedom of the congregations. That 
there was a close connexion between the two was 
plain ; but in the necessity of vindicating civil 
rights, and establishing Christian claims, attention 
was concentrated on particular results which had 
acquired a temporary prominence, rather than on 
the permanent principles of religious union which 
lay behind them. When James Martiaeau left 
Dublin, he was a convinced Unitarian, and a con- 
vinced Unitarian he remained tiU the end of his days. 
But in Dublin he had deliberately made his Uni- 

1 The chief instance of their survival was seen in the Provincial 
Assembly of Lancashire and Cheshire, formed in 1765 by the 
union of two older county associations of the previous century. 


tarianism the basis of church-life. This view he 
was soon to abandon. The process of theological 
change (already partly described) was slow and 
gradual : not less so was the philosophical recon- 
struction which accompanied it, and was in fact 
another aspect of the same movement of his thought. 
But his conversion to a new conception of religious 
fellowship was swift, almost immediate. Where 
his spiritual affections were concerned, he clung to 
old ideals with unrelaxing tenacity : let intellect, 
however, be once convinced, and the inevitable 
consequences were accepted with the smallest 
possible delay. 


The ecclesiastical situation of the Unitarians in 
1832, when James Martineau settled in Liverpool, 
was full of uneasy disquiet. The greater number 
of their chapels had been built in the previous 
century when the profession of Unitarian behef 
was illegal ; many of the meeting-houses had been 
erected by Presbyterians whose ministers had no 
theological objection to signing the doctrinal articles 
of the English Church.^ But these same teachers, 
following the great lead of Richard Baxter, had 
persistently pleaded that the Scripture, and the 
Scripture only, was their rule of faith. With creeds 
of human imposition they would have nothing to 

1 As required by the Act of Toleration, 1689. In practice, 
however, this had been evaded from a very early date. The 
clause imposing subscription was omitted from the Irish Toleration 
Act, 1719. The Act of 1779 aboUshed the demand. 


do ; and on this basis they stood in Baxter's words 
' for Catholicism Jigainst elU parties.' They were 
persuaded, with Robinson, that there was yet more 
light to break out of God's holy Word ; and they 
reserved to themselves ' hberty to reform according 
to Scripture rule in doctrine, discipline, and worship.'^ 
To George I. they pleaded ' Our principles are as we 
hope the most friendly to mankind, amounting to 
no more than those of a general toleration to all 
peaceable subjects, universal love and charity for 
ciU Christians, and to act always in matters of re- 
Ugion as God shall give us hght in his wiU about 
them.'^ In dedicating their chapels ' for the worship 
of God by Protestant Dissenters,' who were some- 
times specified as Presbyterians, sometimes as 
Independents, sometimes as both together, they 
dehberately rejected all limiting doctrinal names. 
Baxter had long before related how ' we would 
have had the brethren to have offered to Parliament 
the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Pra3rer, and the 
Decalogue, as essentials or fundamentals which at 
least contain all that is necessary to salvation ; . . . . 
and whereas it is said " A Socinian or a Papist 
wiU subscribe all this," I answered, " so much the 
better, and so much the fitter it is to be matter of 
our concord." '* The Trinitarian controversy which 
arose in the last decade of the seventeenth century, 
at the time when the Presb3^erians were at their 

1 Timothy JoUie, of Sheffield, 1703, in his funeral sermon for 
bis father. 

* Peirce, Dissenter!^ Reason for not writing on behalf of Per- 
secution, 1718, p. 32. 

3 Life, part ii. p. 198. 


greatest activity,^ threw no shadow of suspicion 
or alarm upon this attitude. At the opening of 
the new Meeting-house at Shrewsbury in 169I 
Francis Tallents * caused it to be written upon 
the walls that it was built not for a faction or 
party, but for the promotion of repentance and 
faith in communion with all that love the Lord 
Jesus Christ in sincerity.' ^ 

To this principle they remained loyal when the 
anti-Trinitarian heresy broke out among the ' Three 
Denominations ' in the person of James Peirce of 
Exeter, 1718. Peirce was a Congregational, and 
justified himself to the satisfaction of his own people. 
But the representatives of the Exeter churches 
opened a correspondence with the London ministers, 
and the question was referred to a meeting sum- 
moned at the Presbyterian head-quarters at 
Salters' Hall, February 19, 1719. Calamy, Watts, 
and Neal, all leading Presbyterians, refused to go, 
doubting their competency as Dissenters to form a 
court of adjudication, and unwilling to intensify 
divisions. Thomas Bradbury, pastor of the church 
in Fetter Lane, proposed on behalf of the Congre- 
gationalists that every minister then present should 
subscribe in witness to his faith the first article 
of the Established Church on the doctrine of the 
Trinity, and the answers to the fifth and sixth 
questions of the Westminster Catechism. The 
motion was resisted by the Presbyterians as involv- 

1 According to a Parliamentary return, the Dissenters took out 
2,418 licenses for places of worship between 1688 and 1700. 
Skeats, Free Churches, p. 197. 

* Nonconformists' Memorial ii. 334. 


ing the imposition of a creed, which was inconsistent 
with the principles of Protestant Dissent. When 
the division took place, those who were for sub- 
scription were directed to repair to the gallery. 
As Bradbury's person appeared, a hiss arose from 
below. ' It is the serpent's voice,' cried the in- 
dignant pastor, ' and it may be expected against 
zeal for him who is the woman's seed.' The motion 
was rejected by 73 votes to 69. In the language 
ascribed to Sir Joseph Jekyll (afterwards Master 
of the Rolls) ' the Bible carried it by four.' The 
minority included nearly all the CongregationaUsts 
and nine Baptists ; ten of the latter, more true to 
their heroic traditions of freedom, voting with the 
Presbyterians. Each party drew up ' Advices for 
Peace ' ; and on March 10 the Non-subscribers 
wrote to Exeter allowing that there were errors of 
doctrine suificiently important to warrant a congrega- 
tion from withdrawing from a minister ; but they 
added that the people are the sole judges as to 
what these errors are ; that the Bible is the sole rule 
of faith ; that no man should be condemned because 
he would not consent to human creeds ; and finally 
(a salutary rule in aJl controversies) that no man 
should be charged with holding the consequences 
of his opinions, if he disclaimed those consequences.^ 
The way was thus open to the slow influences 

iThe sequel weis not without interest. The Trustees locked 
Peirce out of the Chapel. He remonstrated that the people 
ought to decide. They replied that as there might be a majonty 
in his favour, the congregation would not be consulted ; he might 
preach elsewhere. Three hundred followed him, and another 
meeting-house was built. To this case Mr. Gladstone referred in 
the House of Commons. Dissenters' Chapels Bill Debates, p. 182. 


of theological change.^ Many of the meeting-houses 
remained in possession of the Congregationalists. 
But in others a gradual modification of the old 
Calvinistic Trinitarianism set in. Ministers and 
people gently moved together, often hardly con- 
scious on what path they were treading. In some 
cases the adoption of definite Unitarian theology 
was more rapid owing to the vigorous and decided 
teaching of the followers of Priestley ; in others, 
the catholic conception, expounded (for example) 
by Dr. John Taylor of Norwich, still retained its 
hold on congregational usage and affection. No 
public attention, however, was called to the process, 
until a dispute arose at Wolverhampton in 1817.^ 

^ That this was deliberately intended, after 1719, may be 
fairly asserted. Thus in the will of Nathaniel Carter, formerly 
of Great Yarmouth, dated 1722, by which the residue of bis 
property was bequeathed for the benefit of two congregations 
of Protestant Dissenters at Filby and Great Yarmouth (both of 
which became Unitarian), the testator expressly provided : 
' And because no person, who designs the glory of God, the pros- 
perity of his Church, and the support of his interest in the 
world in ages after his decease, can foresee the changes and revo- 
lutions that may arrive, and which might oblige him to alter and 
change the particular method by which he proposeth such ends 
should be promoted ; my great and general instruction to these 
my Trustees is this : that the purposes of sincere Piety and 
Charity, according to the best light of their consciences, and 
agreeable to the directions of the Word of God, may be indus- 
triously and faithfully served to the utmost of their ability by 
this entrustment, lea%'ing with them this short and serious 
memento, god sees.' Christian Reformer, 1836, p. 883. 

2 xhe circumstances were curious {Memoirs of R. Aspland, 
p. 378). The chapel was erected about 1701 by a congregation 
of EngUsh Presbyterians, ' for the worship and service of God." 
About 1770 the minister was an Arian, and he was succeeded 
by an avowed Unitarian, when a secession of Calvinistic members 
took place. In 18 13 Mr. Steward, then professing Unitarian 
opinions, was appointed minister for three years. At the end 
of that time he announced Trinitarian convictions, and the 
congregation declined to renew the appointment, but allowed 


Slow were the stages of a Chancery suit in those 
days ; and the controversy dragged its obscure 
way through the courts, when the accident of a 
rousing speech at a Manchester dinner suddenly lifted 
the question into prominence. The language of 
the Rev. George Harris, at the presentation of a 
silver tea service to the Rev. John Grundy,^ aroused 
an angry criticism, which took the form of an enquiry 
into the tenure by which the Unitarians held the 
majority of their chapels, and administered endow- 
ments such as Lady Hewley's charity in York, and 
Dr. WiUiams's Trust in London.^ Lady Hewley's 
Trustees were finally selected for legal attack. 
Lady Hewley, wife of Sir John Hewley, who repre- 
sented York in the House of Commons in the reign 
of Charles II., had been a warm supporter of the 

him three months' residence to enable him to find another pulpit. 
When this period of grace had expired, Mr. Steward declined to 
leave. One of the Trinitarian seceders of 1780 returned to support 
him, and a suit was instituted to prevent the congregation 
from ejecting Mr. Steward. Interesting legal issues at once arose : 
though the personal profession of Unitarianism had ceased to be 
penal, under Mr. Smith's Act, it was argued that Unitarianism 
was still an offence against the Common Law, and a Unitarian 
congregation could not lawfully hold property. This was of 
course irrespective of the further question of the views of the 

*At a tavern appropriately called the ' Spread Eagle.' ' Ortho- 
doxy is bound up in creeds and confessions, with inky blots and 
rotten parchment bonds : — but Unitarianism, like the word 
of the ever-living Jehovah, is not and cannot be bound. Ortho^ 
doxy is gloom and darkness and desolation ; Unitarianism is 
light, and liberty, and joy.' Mr. Grundy was leaving Cross St., 
Manchester, for Paradise St., Liverpool. 

* ' In Great Britain the Unitarians possess 223 places, of which 
178, i.e., four-fifths of the whole, were originally orthodox. In 
England alone they have 206 chapels, of which 36, or Uttle more 
than one-sixth part of the whole number, were built Isy Unitarians.' 
Waddington, Congregaiiondl History, iv. 312. 


Presb5rterians. She had founded a charity for 
ministers in 1704, ' poor and godly ministers for the 
time being of Christ's holy Gospel ' : in 1707 she had 
added almshouses. One of her trustees was the 
minister of St. Saviourgate chapel, York, where she 
habitually attended. This gentleman, Mr. Hotham, 
was followed by the Rev. Newcome Cappe.^ Mr. 
Cappe was succeeded by Mr. WeUbeloved, and 
Mr. WeUbeloved was also Principal of Manchester 
College. The Attorney General, Sir James Scarlett, 
was requested to institute proceedings against 
the Trustees, but he refused. A royal commission, 
however, proceeded to investigate their position ; 
their report was circulated by some of the Indepen- 
dents who had first raised a counter-claim ; and 
in 1830 a suit was begun. On Dec. 23, 1833, judg- 
ment was given against the Trustees by the Vice- 
Chancellor, who, however, ordered the costs to be 
paid out of the funds of the Trust. It was at once 
seen that the whole tenure of the chapels was 
imperilled. Notice was given of appeal to a higher 
court ; and an English Presbyterian Association 
was formed, early in 1834,^ for purposes of defence. 


The congregation in Paradise St., Liverpool, 
could trace its existence to about the year 1700. 
What was the view of its pastors at this crisis ? 

1 John Hotham, assistant 1698-1731, minister 1731-1756 I 
Newcome Cappe, 1755-1800; Charles WeUbeloved, assistant 
1792-1800 ; minister, 1801-1858. Three pastors covered 160 years. 

2 Largely by the efforts of the Rev. R. Aspland, Memoits, p. 534 


A year of anxious study of the legal pleadings and 
the long historical process just summarised, had an 
immediate and decisive effect upon James Martineau. 
At the Priestley Centenary in March, 1833, he had 
gone to Birmingham as a kind of Unitarian Mecca. 
That was the scene of his hero's severest conflict ; 
it was also a rallpng-place for denominational 
energies. He had long looked to Birmingham, he 
said, ' as the very citadel and stronghold of Dissent ; 
and he had witnessed with no small satisfaction 
the determined efforts which had been made to get 
rid of the unjust method of supporting the teachers 
of one religious sect at the expense of those who 
conscientiously differed from them in opinion.'^ 
Now, however, the situation was changed for him. 
Opportunity of utterance was soon found. The 
decision in the Lady Hewley Case awakened discus- 
sion in various parts of the country, and the Liverpool 
Standard distinguished itself by the bitterness of 
its attack. Mr. Martineau undertook to reply, 
and the Liverpool Mercury published two powerful 
letters introduced by the following appeal. 

To the Editor of the Liverpool Mercury. 

Sir, — ^You have not, perhaps, been wholly inattentive to the 
series of amiable delineations which the Liverpool Standard has 
recently presented of the Unitarians. Fearing that the Editor 
would not gain from his exertions the credit which his inventive 
faculty deserved, I drew up the following vindication of his 
originality, clearly showing that his merits are of a very different 
and far more ideal order than those of the mere observer and 
copyist of actual realities. He has modestly declined the com- 

1 In reply to the toast ' The Rev. James Martineau, who even 
at an early period of his public life, avouched his attachment to 
the great principles of Protestant Dissent by his refusal of the 
Regium Dotmm in Ireland.' Christian Reformer, 1833, p. 184. 


munication ; not, indeed, because he conceives the letter to 
exaggerate his fertility of fiction, for he himself, in his refusal 
pushes his own claims further ; he proclaims himself destitute 
of all human means of ascertaining the things whereof he affirms. 
He has, indeed, quoted from divers trust-deeds ; but he says the 
Unitarians possess all these documents, and will not let him 
see them I His philippics, then, are, as I suspected, things of 
inspiration ! The editor is on the tripod ! 

Your known love of fair-play. Sir, persuades me that, by 
giving place to this letter in your journal, you will help the public 
to a just estimate of the merits of the Standard, as displayed in 
this transaction ; and that you will not complain of the ' extreme 
length' of two or three columns in defence of character, where 
ten have been employed to blacken it. 

Mount St., Feb. s, 1834. Yours, etc., James Martineau. 

The letters^ were chiefly occupied with detailed 
refutation of the assertions of the Standard ; one 
interesting case may serve to point the moral of 
the whole, the allegation and the truth being pre- 
sented by Mr. Martineau in parallel columns. 

Statements of the Liverpool Actual Facts. 

Standard. Wigan. — The Chapel was 

Wigan. — One of the enume- built by Unitarians, and vest- 
rated Unitarian chapels ; built ed in Unitarian Trustees. The 
by the orthodox, and endowed. minister and the majority of 

the congregation, however, 
became Trinitarians, on which 
the sole Unitarian trustee very 
properly filled up the trust 
with orthodox names, and 
made over the whole property 
for the use of the orthodox 
majority. It is now, as it 
should be, in the hands of the 

More significant stiU was his emphasis on Baxter's 
Catholicity, and his affirmation that instead of the 
system of discipline which it primarily denoted, 
Presbyterianism had, at the origin of the existing 

1 Reprinted in the Unitarian Magazine and Chronicle, 1834, 
pp. 7i, 122 ; and the English Presbyterian, 1834, pp. 7, 13. 


foundations, passed into a name for the great prin- 
ciples of free worship and free inquiry. These 
principles might operate in either direction, and 
guide the way from Trinitarianism to Unitarianism, 
or the reverse : he was equally prepared for both. 
But this led straight to a clear and definite result. 
The heirs of the Presbyterians had no right to label 
their churches by doctrinal names, which would 
impose any limits on the freedom of their religious 
fellowship. To this position he definitely committed 
himself ere many months went by.^ On June 
19th he preached in the centre of Lancashire Presby- 
terianism at Cross Street, Manchester, to the Pro- 
vincial Meeting of the Presbyterian and Unitarian 
ministers of Lancashire and Cheshire. At the 
dinner which followed, under his presidency, his 
speech excited unusual interest. He denounced 
the position of Unitarians as too sectarian. It 
did not allow sufficient latitude of theological 
sentiment ; and virtually proclaimed over any 
regular worshipper in one of their chapels what 
was only a denominational name. What a contrast 
was seen in the spirit of the best days of English 
Presbyterianism, which bound to no particular 
religious beUef, and was thus calculated to realise 
the idea of Christians meeting as men anxious to 
have their moral wants supplied, rather than as 
sectarians desirous of having their theological 

1 On Feb. 27 Mrs. Martineau reported to her sister that her 
husband had been preaching to an immense congregation on 
the recent attempts of the orthodox dissenters to deprive Uni- 
tarians oi their endowments. The request for publication was 
declined, and no traces of the sermon survive. 


Opinions supported !^ For more than fifty years 
he was to cherish this ideal, and at length formally — 
but fruitlessly — to propose the definite adoption 
of the English Presbyterian name.^ 


Events, in the meantime, were driving the Uni- 
tarians into a position of isolation which no individual 
exertions could avert. The bitterness aroused by 
the rival claims to the Presbyterian endowments 
rendered co-operation increjisingly difficult. Friction 
among the representatives of the Three Denomina- 
tions was inevitable. For more than seventy years 
the contributions of the joint bodies had maintained 
an Orphan Working School ; and the ministers 
had in turn conducted the devotions in its chapel. 
It was now discovered that the services of the 
Unitarians were ' destructive to salvation ' ; and 
though the guineas of their laymen might be accepted 
as issued from the mint and not from the pit, the 
worship of their ministers must be dismissed to its 
own place. New arrangements were made accord- 
ingly. The respected Presbyterian secretary. Dr. 
Thomas Rees, after six annual re-appointments, 
was set aside upon religious grounds. The Presby- 
terian ministers, assembled at Dr. Williams's Library, 
on March 4, 1836, regretfully resolved to ' withdraw 

1 Christian Reformer, 1834, p. 568. His speech called forth an 
animated vindication of the propriety of attaching the Unitarian 
name to organised religious bodies as well as to individuals, 
from his old York fellow-studeht, Mr. J. R. Beard : ' the theo- 
logical world would not admit of nondescripts.' 

2 See inira, chap. XV. § i. 


from a union the compact of which had been violated, 
and in which we can see no prospect of equal and 
peaceful co-operation, or of real and effective 
service to the interests of religious Uberty.'^ Only 
a few weeks before, the Wolverhampton case had 
been argued for four days at Westminster Hall, 
before the Lord Chancellor, who had reserved his 
decision till the issue of the appeal of the Hewley 
Trustees. On Feb. 5, Lord L37ndhurst had given a 
second judgment against the Hewley Trustees ; 
but there remained an appeal to the House of Lords. 
The Unitarians were stiU languid, and realised 
neither their ecclesiastical dangers, nor what the 
younger and keener-sighted among them thought 
much graver, their rehgious deficiencies. The 
EngUsh Presbyterian Association might seek to 
enlarge itself,* and invite representatives of any 
congregation of Presbyterian or other Protestant 
Dissenters, willing to accept its fimdamental prin- 
ciple. This was formulated as ' the right of free 
and unlimited exercise of private judgment in 
matters of religion, and of full Christian communion, 
on the great principle of the divine mission of our 
Lord, without any other doctrinal test whatever.' 
Such a condition was really a departure from 
original Presbyterian usage, due to imperfect com- 
prehension, like the pseudo-Gothic of contemporary 
church architecture. ' The divine mission of our 
Lord ' was as much a human imposition, i.e., an 
interpretation of Scripture demands, as the first 

1 Aspland's Memoirs, p. 530 ; Christian Reformer, 1836, p. 276. 
^ See the rules attached to the Christian Reformer, 1836. 

|iii] THE AGGREGATE MEETING, 1838 217 

article of the English Estabhshment. It won little 
support, and the Association languished in impotence. 
The field was thus left clear to the Unitarians of 
the British and Foreign Association. Conscious of 
serious issues, they called an Aggregate Meeting 
in Essex St. Chapel, where Lindsey and Belsham 
had ministered, on June 19th, 1838, nine days 
before the coronation of the young Queen Victoria, 
to ' take into consideration the present state of 
the denomination.' To this meeting Mr. Martineau 
went up from Liverpool.^ 

Ministers and la5mien were present from all parts 
of the country, and a number of letters had been 
received, among which one from the Rev. John 
James Tayler, of Manchester, soxmded the theme 
to which Mr. Martineau was to give a vigorous 
development. ' The true change, I have long been 
persuaded,' wrote Mr. Tayler, ' must come from 
within, for the awakening of a deeper and more 
earnest spirit of Religion in the heart of each separate 
congregation.' It was not till the second day that 
Mr. Martineau arose to deliver his soul. He stood, 
a young man, in the midst of the fathers and brethren 
of the faith. Laymen and pastors were among them, 
tried champions of religious liberty ; men of recog- 
nised learning and capacity in affairs. There was 

^ The meeting was spread over two days, June 19 and 22. 
A full report was published in the Christian Reformer, 1838, 
PP- 553 and 629. The week following Mr. Martineau witnessed 
the Coronation in the Abbey. A year before he had been in the 
deputation of Presbyterian ministers, and kissed hands on the 
Queen's accession (letter to Rev. R. L. Carpenter, May 25, 1887). 
For his attendance at the Jubilee in 1887, and his share in the 
Address of 1897, see chap. XV. 


Mr. Madge, the teacher of his boyhood ; Dr. Car- 
penter, the regenerator of his youth ; Mr. Turner, 
whom he could not see without tender recollections 
alike of Newcastle and Nottingham ; Edward Tagart, 
now the husband of his beloved sister-in-law, Mrs. 
Thomas Martineau ; while Dr. Ezra Stiles Gaimett, 
of Boston, at all times himself worthy of honour, 
seemed to bring a benediction from his colleague, 
the saintly Channing. These were the men whom 
he woiald warn and exhort ! Their Association he 
was ready to defend from unjust attacks ; but its 
very constitution, he declared, was entirely sectarian, 
and it could never kindle the Ufe of their churches, 
or reahse the desires of union under which the meet- 
ing had been convened. Some passages of the 
speech that followed supply so many clues to his 
later thought and action that they are here subjoined. 
Few can realise now the effort which they must 
have cost him. 

Some preceding speaker has professed his undoubting 
belief that our existing Unitarianism is destined to be 
the world's universal and eternal faith. Happy and 
complacent belief ! held and disappointed by every 
sect in turn, with respect to its own creed; yet Jiving 
and fervent still ! needful perhaps to maintain the 
zeal of successive generations, yet surely msdntaining 
it on delusion ! Among ourselves little has been done 
since the time of Priestley : yet it cannot be supposed 
that we are always to live on the discoveries and glories 
of the past. I too doubt not that either our present 
Unitarianism, or something far better, will be the ultimate 
faith of men ; but I conceive that we are obviously in 
a state of transition, that every mark which history ever 
affords of such a state is to be foimd among us — in one 

§iii] THE AGGREGATE MEETING, 1838 219 

direction a great ferment of new ideas ; in another a 
determined stand upon old ones ; and everywhere a 
consciousness of reUgious defect exciting earnest but 
vague aspirations after improvement. Why, then, 
should we not confess that we are on our way to better 
things instead of attempting to consolidate and 
perpetuate our present modes of thought ? Why drop 
our anchor here, in seas from which we must be driven, 
instead of looking out for bright land ahead and seeking 
still a better country, even a heavenly ? . . . . 

Many of us conceive that little practical importance is 
to be attached to the numerical distribution of the 
Godhead in the conceptions of men ; and that while 
the moral and personal qualities which they venerate 
and trust and aspire to imitate, are truly august and 
divine, it is of small moment by what name or names 
they may be called. I cordially subscribe to a sentiment 
in a sermon preached before the Association on Wednes- 
day, viz., that our Trinitarian brethren in their 
devotions, bow, like ourselves, before the mental image 
of an infinite perfection. If so, and if the real object of 
every man's worship be the conception of Deity in his 
own mind, then must two persons, standing before the 
same vision of perfection, both exercise the same 
devotion, both revere the Holy and Divine, whatever 
name they may pronounce, and whatever number they 
may annex. Admit the idea within to be the same, and the 
whole question becomes one of mere nameSi We, who 
have our descent from forefathers of Calvinistic belief — 
who pride ourselves on their heroism and their faith — 
who, confessing that they had not the nobility of rank, 
boast of their better nobiUty of conscience, should be 
the last to deny the tendency of the system from which 
we are now estranged, to produce great and most 
excellent minds. And to admit this is to damp all the 
fuel of sectarian zeal 

I confess that I cannot attribute our want of progress, 
as a sect, to defective ecclesiastical arrangements, so 


much as to the spirit of our rehgious system, and to the 
state of mind in which that system has its origin and 
support. The one great function of a rehgious body is, 
I apprehend, to generate faith — an absolute reliance that 
is upon internal convictions and truths of religion and 
morals, in opposition to external expediencies, — an 
undoubting self-abandonment, in action and affection, 
to some great idea worth living or dying for. Every 
sect has prospered, and deserved to prosper, in proportion 
as it has produced this disposition ; it has failed and 
deserved to fail, in proportion as it has produced the 
opposite, and excited the critical, sceptical, disorganizing 
temper. Moral power appears to me to develop itself 
in the transition from unbeUef to belief, and to disappear 
in the change from belief to imbelief ; depending much 
less than we are apt to suppose on the absolute truth 
and logical consistency of the opinions embraced. To 
this fact, all the great moral revolutions in the history of 
civilization seem to bear witness. . . . 

With these views of the true office of a body of 
rehgious reformers (continued the speaker, amid a 
gathering storm of disapprobation), I cannot but lament 
that Unitaricinism had a scepticsJ origin : that it began 
with dissuasives from belief, removing successively 
objects of human veneration and rehance ; and, on the 
whole, characterized in the eyes of others by its success 
in proving how few things need be regarded as wonderful 
and divine. To this spirit, impressed upon our system 
at first, we are indebted for such accessions of adherents 
as it receives. The doubters and unbehevers of other 
and less reasonable churches constitute the new forces 
of our own : we grow by men's lapses from their previous 
convictions ; and thus a critical, cold, and untrusting 
temper becomes silently diffused, unfavourable to high 
enterprise and deep affections. Moreover, when at 
length this spirit vanishes, and the genuine sentiments 
of personal reUgion acquire power, their effect upon our 
consolidation, as a sect, is the very reverse of their action 

§ iii] THE AGGREGATE MEETING, 1838 221 

in orthodox churches. With those who esteem error to 
be no less fatal than sin, the growth of piety inflames 
sectarian zeal ; with us, who attach no terrors to the 
involuntary mistakes of the sincere, it is otherwise : the 
pure perceptions and natural instincts of the pious 
heart detect and love the good and great in the spirit 
of other churches ; becoming more devout in mind, we 
feel ourselves not tnore, but far less discriminated from 
the true Christian of every faith ; and our sectarian 
zeal undergoes inevitable decline. And, thus as a mere 
theological denomination, we profit by the scepticism 
of other sects, and lose by the piety of our own. 
Conceiving, then, that the causes of our defective social 
influence he thus deep, I have no sanguine expectations 
from any principle of sectarian union or schemes of 
mechanical organization. The proper use of organi- 
zation, surely, is to direct into proper channels and 
reduce to a steady and , calculable power, an exuberant 
energy and wild force akeady existing. But it can 
create nothing ; the symmetrical aggregation of dead 
atoms can kindle no life ; and the spontaneous vigour 
of our separate churches must, I apprehend, be much 
increased before they have a superfluity of power to 
shed upon the weak and the depressed. . . . 

We should turn our attention, I respectfully suggest, 
not to orthdoxy, which has a faith and is satisfied with 
it, but to indifference, and unbelief and sin, which have 
it not and are satisfied without it. On these we should 
make aggression, in the power of our positive religion, 
bearing down upon them with the persuasion of the 
Divine Paternity, and Human Brotherhood, under the 
sense of the sanctity of duty and the grandeur of immor- 
tality. We should deal with them with singleness of 
aim, as if left alone with them in God's world to cure 
them, — as if unconscious of the presence of other sects. 
Permitting an activity thus to flow, not from our 
perception of the false, but from our persuasion of the 
true, our own spirit of disinterestedness would grow ; 


we should acquire more noble faith ourselves, and thus 
win the only title God bestows to meddle with the faith 
of others. The sole case in which; I conceive, the em- 
plojmient of proseljrtizing missionaries is desirable, is 
when the popular systems of Christianity have produced 
an uneasy, sceptical, and irreligious state of mind, and 
we can therefore go forth to construct, not to destroy, 
to reassure and not to xmsettle, to replace the barreimess 
of doubt and aversion by the divine fertility of love and 

The speech was a challenge, not so much of a 
particular theology as of a temper, which to an ardent 
and aspiring mind seemed indescribably narrow and 
impotent. Great changes of thought were already 
on the way : the fathers of an elder day had thrown 
down all barriers and let in the light : what should 
hinder their successors from doing the same ? 
The time was not yet corae when such issues could 
be fully faced.^ 


Further insight into Mr. Martineau's views at 
this epoch is afforded by letters two years later, 

1 At the end of his speech Mr. Martineau moved ' That this 
meeting, in professing its attachment to Unitarian Christianity 
as at once Scriptural and Rational, and conducive to the true 
Glory of God, and Wellbeing of Men, and in avo'wing its veneration 
for the early British Expositors and Confessors of this Faith, — 
at the same time recognises the essential worth of that principle 
of free inquiry to which we are indebted for our own form of 
Christianity, and of that Spirit of deep and vital Religion which 
may exist under various forms of theological sentiment, and 
which gave to our forefathers their impUcit faith in Truth, their 
love of God, and their reliance, for the improvement of mankind, 
on the influences of the Gospel.' This was seconded by the Rev. 
J. J. Tayler, and carried. Mr. Martineau then voted for a resolu- 
tion proposed by the Rev. George Harris, in aid of the work of 
the Association. 


copied by Mrs. Martineau into her diary. The 
first deals with a difl&culty raised by a phrase in 
the speech just quoted. 

To the Rev. S. T. Porter, Darwen, near Blackburn. 
Liverpool, July i8th, 1840. 

.... You appear to suspect some hidden meaning 
in my statement that the ' real object of every man's 
worship is the conception of Deity in his own mind.' 1 
I do by no means intend to imply that in the act of 
adoration the worshipper feels his veneration to be 
directed to any ' idea ' or ' conception,' or other part or 
state of himself. He necessarily and truly considers 
the object of his devotion to be a reality external to his 
own personality, and independent of his state of mind, 
living and acting when no conception of him is in the 
human heart. The purport of my words will perhaps be 
evident by adverting to the general topic which led me 
to use them. I was speaking of the practical and 
spiritual operation of different modes of worship, and 
maintaining that this operation is the same wherever 
two worshippers have the same mentcd conception of 
Deity, however different the phraseology by which they 
may denote this conception. And relatively to me the 
maxim is evidently true, ' de non apparentibus et de non 
existentibus eadem est ratio.' It is my own representa- 
tion of God to myself that determines the character and 
effect of my worship : and whatever else he may be in 
himself, the qualities and lineaments of his nature which 
are absent from my thoughts, are inoperative upon 
those thoughts. To me God is that which he appears to 
be ; and the divine image which arises before the soul 
in prayer, and which is perceived not by the senses given 
us for the ascertainment of outward things, but by 
thought that takes cognizance of internal and spiritual 
things — this image cdone decides the character of a man's 

1 Ante, p. 219, 


piety. Whatever is falsely omitted from it, not bein( 
there, fails to operate ; whatever is falsely included ii 
it, operates as if it were a copy of the truth. This is £il 
that I meant. 

You appear to object to my account of faith as ' ai 
absolute rehance upon internal convictions and truth 
of religion and morals ' ; and you seem to have drawi 
from these words the inference that ' the thing believed 
is, in my estimation, ' of no consequence in itself, pro 
vided it has effected fsiith.' Now, I do not see that then 
is much the matter with my definition, — and as for th( 
inference from it, I cannot see how it follows, and air 
quite prepared to disclaim it. I think that wherevei 
there is the absolute reliance of which I speak, whethei 
on real or on only supposed truths, there is faiih ; bul 
I by no means think all sorts of faith equally excellent 
irrespective of their success in approximating to the 
truth. Nevertheless, I do think the distinction betweer 
faith and no-faith incomparably more important than 
that between one kind of faith and another ; and in the 
gradation of excellence shovild arrange them thus — ist, 
true faith; 2nd, false faith; 3rd, no faith at all; 
regarding the second not so much in the Ught of a 
palliative evil, as in that of a limited good. In order 
to explain this, I would distinguish between physical or 
scientific truth, and religious or mysterious truth. The 
former of these being necessarily finite and calculable, is 
appreciable by human faculties, and the mind may have 
a precise representation within itself of the reaUty, and 
the conception of any scientific fact that is not trite, is 
inevitably false, so that the understanding would be 
in a better state without such conception. But religious 
truth, having reference solely to things infinite, is surely 
inappreciable by our minds. It belongs to deeps beyond 
our experience. And neither nature nor revelation can 
enable us to think correctly of that which transcends the 
limits of the very souls they condescend to teach. Our 
truest faiths, then, are in^— not the truth, but our most 


:ppy modes of representing the still absent truth to 
irselves ; modes either self-acquired, or imparted by 
velation. All these modes are but symbols of the great 
ality ; more or less noble, solemn, sublime ; and in 
is respect only, more or less true. For all are but 
bstitutes or approximations replacing in our finite 
Lnds the infinitude that cannot enter them. Hence it 
ipears to me that neither absolute truth, nor absolute 
Isehood, but only comparative excellence, can be 
edicated of any form of religious belief prevalent 
long us ; and while we all of us misconceive the reality, 
ey only contradict it who have no faith. , Others may 
rm but poor and unworthy ideas of things infinite, 
it these alone say ' there is no infinite,' — a notion 
lich, amid all the creeds which miss the truth, can 
Dne be Ccdled the belief of a lie, — of the most gigantic of 
IS. The least approach or tendency to this condition 
mind, the least check to the feelings of trust and 
jrship, the lapse towards a state of negation in religion, 
regard as a profounder error than can take place within 
e limits of any Christian form of faith. Hence my 
ersion to proselytising. It is impossible to carry on 
is work without disorganising a man's present faith ; 
d it is so much more certain that you will produce 
sbelief of what he has venerated, than belief of any- 
ing more worthy of reverence, that if I saw his faith 
lietly sanctifying his heart and life, I would let it 
me, though it differed from that I loved myself ; 
t, you observe, because I think error will do as well as 
ath, but because I suspect that his present state of 
;nd, with all its errors, may yet be truer than any which 
:an substitute by a process involving the penis of a 
integrated faith. 

Experience, moreover, appears to me to teach that 
sre is a relation which it is very dangerous to disturb, 
tween the general condition of a man's mind and 
aracter, and the particular form of faith which he 
opts ; and that his belief spontaneously adjusts itself 


to his moral and spiritual wants. On religious subjects 
tbe vital truth or falsehood of a faith seems to me to 
depend upon this relation, rather than to be a thing 
extrinsic to it and absolute ; so that if we could look 
at another's creed not with our eyes, but with his, we 
should see it true, not false. And conversely, if we were 
to tiun out his creed, and put in our own instead, — not 
being able to give him our mental eye — the coloured glass 
of our thought and affection, — through which to view 
it, we might present him with that which, by the very 
attempt at transference, passed from truth into error. 
For myself, the more I study the beliefs of those from 
whom I differ, not in the spirit of controversy but of 
sympathy, the more I endeavour to seize the point of 
view and feeling of those who hold them, the more do I 
see of essential sanctifying heart-truth in them, though 
the form into which they are thrown is one to which 
neither my reason nor my interpretation of Scripture 
can yield assent. I rejoice with thanksgiving that 
they can do for others what they cannot do for me. 
With this conception, that all Christian faiths are but 
symbols of unapproachable realities, I do not expect 
that there will be any ultimate and universal agreement 
in one form of doctrine. There seem to me to be 
foundations in the very constitution of our minds for 
different modes of thinking on the same great subjects. 
For example, the doctrine of Free-will, and that of 
Necessity, are as old as human speculation, and have 
made no approach to any settlement. They represent, 
and surely will always maintain, two schools of reUgious 
sentiment, each fulfilling an important function, and 
finding congenial minds. Indeed, to every object of 
mystic contemplation there are an infinite number of 
sides, and it is much if our poor minds can even fix a full 
gaze on one. How, then, should there not be many 
views ? God grant us all some true glimpse, to guide 
us through a world which else has little light ! 

I hope I have rightly apprehended, and intelligibly 


answered, the question which you favoured me by 
proposing. The only remark which I would add is 
this, that while I frankly acknowledge that other men's 
faith may to them be as good as my own, and feel, there- 
fore, little call of benevolence to make proselytes, I look 
with horror upon aJl disingenuousness or even indiffer- 
ence about the free expression and fearless maintenance 
of one's personal convictions. No man can have a deep 
persuasion without loving it ; and he is neither true to 
himself nor trustful in God, if he does not avow it with 
simphcity, defend it with earnestness, and see that it has 
its place in the mighty competition for human souls. 
Forgive the length of this letter, which my earnest 
interest in the subject has tempted me to extend too 
far. Wherever I am wrong, I shall at all times, I trust, 
be grateful for correction. 

Believe me, my dear sii, 

Yours very faithfully, 

James Martineau. 

To the Rev. Archibald Macdonald, Royston, Herts. 

Liverpool, 1840. 

I fear that you must have expected to receive, ere 
this, my thanks, long and largely due, for your very 
interesting letter to my friend Thom and myself. His 
worthier as well as prompter answer is already, I doubt 
not, in your hands ; and should so rare a fortune as a 
few leisure hours fall to me within any reasonable time, 
I may perhaps send you something more suitable to your 
subject and your letter, than the few hurried thoughts 
which I now cast forth from the press of a most busy 
hfe . . . 

I heartily concur in your estimate of the spirit and 
tendencies of the prevailing Unitarianism ; of the small 
benefit to be looked for from its textual controversies ; 
of the ruinous evUs to be apprehended from its conceit 
and exclusiveness. Nor would I ever give my voice 


for closing any subject on which speculation, without or 
within the limits of Christianity, may be disposed to 
enter. But I am not sure that I share your sanguine 
hopes of good from the fresh and unrestricted prosecution 
of moral and theological enquiry, conceiving this to be 
the condition of progress, rather than the progress itself ; 
without which we must die as a religious body, but with 
which it is quite possible we may not live. Conjointly 
with an improved theology (or, were it possible, previous 
to it) we want, I cannot but think, a better psychological 
philosophy ; or, what would do quite as weU, a return to 
nature, without any systematic philosophy at all, for 
the stiff freimework of mere logical metaphysics. In 
Germany you may do what you please with theology, 
and very little injury will accrue to reUgion, the senti- 
ments of which are there supposed (as I believe most 
truly) to lie deeper than the understanding, and to 
survive its changes. But, mentedly descended as we 
are in this country from John Locke, we have brought 
the understanding to do all our work for us from the 
baking of bread to the worship of God ; which latter 
task it very ill and grudgingly performs, and perpetually 
threatens to throw up altogether. The Intellect being 
made the sole basis of our religion, its heavings and 
rackings cause Trust and Piety to reel ; and thus it is 
a much more serious thing to disturb the old foundations 
here than in Germany. There, the strangest free 
thinking [speaks]^ in tones of reverence, and almost of 
prayer ; and appears merely as the form in which, with 
active minds, the religious sentiment preserves its 
freshness and sincerity. With our people, on the other 
hand, the moral feelings are strong, but the devotional 
singularly weak and hesitating. They are children of 
Law, not of Love, very obedient, preceptually, but 
not affectionate, spiritually. This seems to me to be 
the change primarily needed ; and only to be brought 

1 The diarist appears to have omitted a verb. 


about by a more penetrating and natural, a less scholastic 
and traditional, style of preaching and thinking. Till 
this is done, our religion, made up of all sorts of anti- 
quarian and literary and logical assents, about authen- 
ticity and credibility and miracles, is a mere structure 
of glass, and will not bear pelting. 

Another reason why I do not desire to see an exclusive 
reliance for our progress on freer speculation, is suggested 
by your own remark that there are the elements of 
possible discord among us Unitarians, an old school 
and a new. Now it so happens that just now the old 
school is arriving, historically, and from mere conserva- 
tism at the same love of free enquiry which the other 
section entertains from theory and readiness for innova- 
tion. Our position in relation to the courts of law, in 
our disputed claim to certain ancient property, has 
recently occcisioned, on the part of the people most 
hostile to the movement, a constant appeal to ' our 
Presbyterian forefathers,' as the enemies of tests and 
the avowed recognisers of progressiveness in theological 
opinion. It is impossible that this example can be held 
up to admiration, without at length producing some- 
thing hke imitation ; and if the principle of open 
questions really constitutes the very tenure of our endow- 
ments, self-interest itself will forbid its invasion, and 
make friends to it among those who would otherwise set 
up an orthodox standard of Unitarianism. Hence it 
appears to me possible with a little patience and forbear- 
ance, to maintain our union unbroken. A change is 
going on, remedial of the bigotry which exists among 
us, if we do not heedlessly provoke it into vehement 
action ; and in a few years I expect to see the Rationalist 
section of the Unitarians in the ascendant, and the 
Orthodox portion quietly, and with harmless reluctance, 
bringing up the rear of the movement. The Christian 
Reformer must shortly fall into new hands ; and if the 
best materials of the Christian Teacher could be thrown 
into it, and one effective periodical could be made 


representative of the views of both sections of our body, 
the spectacle of fair and fearless research and speculation 
might again become a conspicuous feature in our de- 
nomination. I am very anxious to preserve our external 
union ; and should regret any organisation of the 
movement section, visibly apart from the other, and in 
apparent defiance of it. At the same time, I need not 
say to you that I advocate no suppression of truth 
which seems important, or investigation which appears 
weU-matured, to any competent inquirer. Let us study 
without hindrance, believe and disbeheve without fear, 
and publish without stint, simply avoiding any aggres- 
sion on the more timid brethren, and betraying no doubt 
of their approval, or at least acquiescence. Men who 
are assumed to be courageous, do not like to show them- 
selves cowards. Though I have thought much about 
the practicability of some such imion as you suggest, 
I do not see the materials for it. Spontaneous com- 
munication among like-minded men, and pubhcation of 
any new speculations, specially in our periodicals, appear 
to me the only methods of fastening such union, which is 
not the less real for being invisible and without form. 

A friend of mine, whose name may not be strange to 
you. Dr. Nichol, of Glasgow (astronomer), has written 
to me proposing an association for publishing transla- 
tions of the most remarkable German works on theology 
and philosophy, beginning with Strauss and a few of the 
answers to the Leben Jesu ; and so many other persons 
have mentioned the same idea, that I incline to think 
that the plan might succeeed, though not in a pecuniary 
way. I have soimded Mr. J. M. {Lond. and West. Rev.y 
on , the matter ; and his opinion is favourable. The 
practical difficulty is to find people who have time to do 
the work, most of those who would take an interest in 
it and would be willing to toil without reward, being 
deeply engaged in other pursuits. For myself, I have 

1 Mr. John Mill, of the London and Westminster Review. 

§ iv] STRAUSs's L^ben Jesu 231 

never been able to contribute anything to my friend 
Thorn's Christian Teacher : and though I have Strauss, 
and read him, it would be quite impossible for me to 
undertake to review him as you suggest. However, 
I expect soon to have some change of occupation which 
may limit my attention for the rest of my life to Intellec- 
tuaJ and Moral Science, and the History of Opinion, and 
more may perhaps be in my power then. ... The fault 
of the Leben Jesu seems to me to lie in the completeness 
and unnatural uniformity with which the author has 
applied his mythological principle of explanation. There 
are large portions of the Gospels to which, as appears to 
me, it cannot be applied, and from which it is impossible 
to strike out the elements of historical reality ; and in 
the parts where the mythical interpretation is most 
successful, Strauss has hardly much claim to originality — 
indeed, he founds his own claim exclusively on the 
systematic way in which he has carried his theory through, 
admitting that in scattered instances he has been 
anticipated. Though the direct and main object of the 
book does not seem to me to be attained, the incidental 
benefits arising from it will be great. I was delighted to 
find in it many positions, either assumed as undeniable, 
or established by strong evidence, and then used as 
fundamental certainties throughout the book, of which 
I had long convinced myself, and (in some instances) 
others also, but which Orthodox Unitarianism regards 
with exceeding horror, such as the fragmentary and 
various structure of the three first Gospels, perplexing 
the whole question of authenticity — the production of 
the fourth Gospel from a different school of Jewish 
theology (probably of Alexandrine affinity), so that the 
whole conception of the Messiah is different in it from the 
form in which it appears in the other gospels — and 
specially the notion of his pre-existence, is manifestly 
entertained by the author, and ascribed to Christ ; the 
belief expressed in the language of Christ (especially, 
perhaps exclusively, in the three first Gospels) of a 


personal return to earth to reign, and the habitual 
inculcation of it by the apostles ; and many other points 
to which I cannot advert now. 

Let me, before I conclude, recall the opinion to which 
you allude as expressed in the preface to the Rationale, 
that the name Christian is improperly given to those 
who exclude the preternatural from Christianity. Though 
I have personaDy the same strong conviction which I 
then had, that miracles in general are perfectly and 
rationally credible, and that it is impossible to explain 
away the Christian miracles in particular, yet I can no 
longer deny the name Christian to those who differ from 
me on either or both of these points, provided on any 
other grovmds they attain to discipleship to Christ, and 
the recognition of the divine and authoritative in him. 
Sometime or other I will publicly state and argue this 

I am not at all surprised at your disappointment in 
my first lectures in the controversy. Indeed, I am only 
amazed that you are not disappointed (as I am) in them 
all. Had I been writing irrespectively of the attack 
upon us, I should have taien up a much bolder position, 
as I habitually do with my own people. But I thought 
it sufficient, while sajdng nothing which I do not hold 
to be strictly true, to drop a few hints and principles 
which might suggest remoter truth, and to reserve the 
fuller exposition of such truth for a time when the 
exigencies of a special controversial argument imposed 
no restraints. I am the more pleased to hear of your 
approval of the Lecture on Moral Evil, because from all 
quarters it has encountered nothing but dissent and 

P.S. — Since I signed my name, I have received from 
Dr. Channing a very interesting criticism on the lecture 
respecting Moral Evil, which appears to have surprised 
him as coming from an English Unitarian. "• He is 

I See ante, p. 183 


delighted at the onslaught upon Priestleyism, as a 
symptom of a change in our modes of thought ; but 
thinks that I have not touched the root of the matter 
as to the place of the prudential feelings in religion, 
saying that I have pointed out the falae but not reached 
the true. I hope he will sometime supply this defect, 
and give us the thoughts of so great a mind on so great 
a matter. 


With such incisive criticism, public and private, 
of the sectarian tendencies around him, did James 
Martineau pursue his way. It made him an object 
of fear rather than love ; there was something 
incalculable about him which the elder forces could 
not subdue to their own ends ; he was in the un- 
comfortable position of one who moved about in 
worlds not realised ; those who believed that they 
knew where they were — at the centre of truth — 
failed to understand him, and saw without regret 
that he sought no further share in denominational 

Meantime, the long expected crisis arrived at 
last. Judgment was delivered by the Law Lords 
in the Hewley case on August 5, 1842 ; the previous 
decisions were upheld ; and the Unitarian Trustees 
were finally set aside. ^ The Wolverhampton case 
was suddenly resuscitated ; and the suspended 
issue was promptly settled against the Unitarian 
claim to ownership. All over the country the 
property which Unitarians had possessed for genera- 
tions, was endangered. The chapels which their 

1 The costs to the Charity amounted to over £r2,6oo ; and the 
Trustees had further to pay £$,700 out of their own pockets. 


forefathers had built on the site of yet older Presby- 
terian foundations, the endowments of pious bene- 
factors who denied the doctrine of the Trinity before 
1813, the pulpits and monuments of their ministers, 
the graves of their lay-folk, the schools in which they 
were helping to educate the people, might all be 
wrested from them. The peril was imminent ; 
' I know,' said the Lord Chancellor in 1844, ' that 
two or three hundred suits are already talked of 
as likely to be instituted for the purpose of ousting 
the present possessors.' Measures for protection 
were urgently needed. Yet how could the Unitarian 
Association present a plea for buildings established 
on a principle exactly the opposite of its own ? 
If it daimed them as Unitarian, it brought them 
within a limited dogmatic range, and wrote over them 
a warning that the CathoUc communion, for which 
they had been erected, could only be maintained 
with the few who accepted the uni-personaUty of 
God. This involved an incongruity too gross. 
The vigilant pastor of the Gravel Pit Chapel, Hack- 
ney, so long the devoted secretary of the Association, 
perceived the difficulty.^ With a vigorous effort 
he formed a new English Presbyterian Union, to 
which the defence of the Chapels was committed.* 
Negotiations were at once opened with the Govem- 

1 The Christian Reformer stated this frankly, 1842, p. 596 : 
' None of the Societies already formed seem to be equal to the 
emergency. Some are doctrinal, which the contemplated Associa- 
tion must evidently not be.' 

2 Letter of Jan. 12, 1843, Memoirs of R. Aspland, p. 576. 
The earlier Presbyterian Association had held an annual meeting 
on May 19th, but had done nothing. It was now merged in 
a more active successor. 


ment. The Attorney General, Sir Frederick Pollock, 
promised that he woiold neither himself institute, 
nor allow others to institute in his name, any further 
legal proceedings, until the case for legislative 
rehef had been fully considered. Difficulties arose 
in 1843 in consequence of Irish compUcations.^ 
More than one bill was drafted, considered, and 
withdrawn. Happily the learned Lords, the Chan- 
cellor and ex-Chancellors, and those who had 
successively sat in judgment, or been engaged in 
pleading, on the Hewley case, were in complete 
concurrence, and this unanimity secured final success. 
Petitions were sent up from 76 chapels, the Liverpool 
group contributing four. The Paradise St. congrega- 
tion pointed to the unbroken continuance of their 
constituent families, as appeared from their baptis- 
mal records extant since 1707, and affirmed that 
it was impossible to reach by evidence a time when 
Anti-Trinitarian doctrines did not prevail among 
them. From the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth Sarah 
Mather proved that her forefathers had worshipped 
there for at least 194 years, her pew door bearing the 
legend ' D ^^5° M', i.e., which, being interpreted, 
meant ' Daniel Mather, 1650.' She had herself 
attended the ministry of six pastors ; and another 
petitioner remembered a seventh, his own grand- 
father, Richard Harding, who was buried in the 
churchyard in 1770, after a ministry of about fifty 
years.^ In these petitions Mr. Martineau, no doubt, 

1 The various Presbyterian bodies, orthodox and remonstrant, 
took different views, and sent over opposite deputations. Suits 
had been begun for the recovery of the Dublin chapels in Eustace 
St. and Strand St., out of Unitarian hands. 


took a keen interest : and similar statements were 
forwarded from the places which had been the 
scenes of his earUer life and work, Norwich, Derby, 
Nottingham, York, and Bristol, and the two Dublin 

The government measure was introduced into 
the House of Lords by the Lord Chancellor, Lord 
Lyndhurst, on March 7, 1844 ; petitions on both 
sides flowed in during the next few weeks ; the 
second reading was moved on May 3 ; the third 
reading was carried on May 9 by 44 to 9 ; and the 
bill was sent down to the Commons. It bore the 
title of an ' Act for the regulation of Suits relating 
to Meeting-Houses and other Property held for 
Rehgious purposes by Persons dissenting from the 
Church of England.' Neither Presb3rterians nor 
Unitarians were named ; but Mr. Smith's Act of 
1813^ was made retrospective in its operation by 
the first clause, so as to legaUse all foundations 
by persons who would have benefited by it, had it 
been then in force. The second clause was of more 
dubious import. As originally drafted it declared 
that where no particular rehgious doctrines were 
enforced by the trust-deeds, the usage of so many 
years (the number was left to be fixed by Parhament) 
should be taken as conclusive evidence of the doc- 
trines for the promotion of which the meeting-houses 
were founded. The effect would have been to fasten 
on the chapels in perpetuity the specific Unitarian 
teaching of the previous five-and-twenty years :* 

* See ante, chap. IV. p. 87. 
2 xhis figure was adopted by the Lords. 

§v] dissenters' chapels ACTj 1844 237 

and the whole principle for which Mr. Martineau 

had already so earnestly contended would have 

been lost.^ 

' The debate on the second reading [in the Commons] had but 
one fault,' observed the Christian Teacher,^ ' the absence of any 
respectable speech on the wrong side ; ' a circumstance which 
might have been employed as an excuse for giving a tame support 
to the measure, and for treating the unpopular persons who are 
the first to benefit by it with epithets of cautious repudiation 
and cold disdain. But instead of this, the leading men of every 
class seemed emulous to yield it the aid of their advocacy ; the 
lawyer* to attest its accordance with statutory analogy ; the 
Jurist* its agreement with the experience of nations and the 
philosophy of law ; the Man of Letters,* its consistency with the 
modem theory of Christianity ; the admirer of " Church prin- 
ciples " and student of Church antiquity,' the sound basis of its 
historical assumptions ; the once oppressed CathoUc,^ its claims 
on a country which was retracing its persecuting steps ; the 
statesman of enlarged expediency,* its propriety as a measure 
of peace ; and the constitutional Whig,'''' its manifest necessity 
as an appendix to former and imperfect charters of religious 

Among these speakers Mr. Gladstone penetrated 
the deepest into the real meaning of the whole case. 

' I went into the subject laboriously,' he says.'^i ' and satisfied 
myself that this w£is not to be viewed as a mere quieting of 
titles based on lapse of time, but that the Unitarians were the 
true lawful holders, because though they did not agree with the 
Puritan opinions they adhered firmly to the Puritan principle, 
which was that Scripture was the rule without any binding 
interpretation, and that each man, or body, or generation must 
interpret for himself.' 

Of this principle Mr. Gladstone gave a remarkable 

1 It would also have prevented the reversion of chapels held by 
Unitarians to the orthodox, as at Wigan (ante, p. 213.) 

2 Then edited by the Rev. J. H. Thorn ; vol. vi., 1844, p. 318. 

* The opposition was led by the senior member for the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, Sir R. Inglis. 

* Sir Wm. W. Follett, Attorney General. * Mr. Macaulay. 
' Mr. Monckton Milnes. ' Mr. Gladstone. * Mr. Shell. 
9 The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, i" Lord John Russell. 
11 Morley, Life of Gladstone, i. p. 322. - • 


exposition to the House of Commons, the severity 
of a theological lecture being mitigated by the orator's 
art. The ' idea of Christianity as a shifting, chang- 
ing, and advancing subject,' which he found in 
Baxter and his contemporaries, was the exact oppo- 
site of his own, but he bore emphatic testimony to 
their conscientiousness. Quoting from the address 
of John Robinson as early as 1620 to the first planters 
of New England,^ bewailing the stereotjTped con- 
dition of the Reformed Churches — ' I beseech you 
to remember it : it is an article of your Church- 
covenant that you will be ready to receive whatever 
truth shall be made known unto you from the 
written word of God ' — ' There,' said the Anglican 
statesman, ' you have the seed of all those pro- 
gressive changes, of the effects of which you are now 
considering the course.' Continuity of religious life 
amid ' progressive changes ' of doctrine was the 
conception which James Martineau had already 
formed ten years before. ^ The Bill, however, 
threatened to arrest that advance, as Lord Sandon 
pointed out in a few words before the second reading.* 
The difficulty was raised again in Committee by Mr. 
J. Stuart Wortley and Mr. Cardwell,* and was 
removed on the report stage by amendments intro- 

^ Mr. Gladstone cited it from Cotton Mather ; on its authenticity 
in that form, see Rev. Alx. Gordon's remarks, Diet. Nat. Bio- 
graphy, vol. xlix. p. 31. 

> Compare his paper on ' The Living Church through Changing 
Creeds' in the Theological Review, 1866, p. 296. 

' This was carried by 309 to 119. 

* It was also urged in the Christian Teacher, 1844, p. 336, 
where it was pointed out that the clause as then drafted created 
a creed of usage, in default of a creed of trust. 

§v] dissenters' chapels act, 1844 239 

"duced by the Solicitor-General, to secure ' the more 
ample recognition of the power of such Dissenting 
congregations as had no tests or creeds to change 
their opinions as they saw fit, in the lapse of time.'^ 
Thus amended the BiU went back to the Upper 
House, where a great rally of peers took place. At 
the final division, July 15, it was adopted by a 
majority of 161,* and four days later it received the 
royal assent. 

The principle of English Presbyterianism was 
now legally established. What use would the 
Unitarians make of it ? In James Martineau's 
view a great opportunity had been offered them. 
They stood at the parting of the ways. Would 
they go boldly forwards in reliance on their funda- 
mental religious affections, striving after the ideal 
of their forefathers, or would they relapse into 
theological sectarianism ? The answer in London 
was unhappily prompt and decisive. The very day 

1 Lord Sandon expressed his satisfaction. ' He would deem 
it a very great hardship indeed, if usage or any other thing 
should be taken as imposing a test, where there was no test of 
any kind originally imposed, or that opinions should thus be 
crystallized at any one particular period of thought.' This 
change was eagerly promoted by Mr. Martiueau. He had at 
once perceived that the Bill as presented to the Upper House 
made the usage of the previous twenty-five years binding. This 
was so objectionable that, as he afterwards related, he ' implored 
the solicitors who were watching the measure to get it altered. 
The legal men, however, were afraid of touching a word in a Bill 
that had obtained the Lord Chancellor's approval. The Members 
of Parliament were freer to move ; and the Bill received the 
required amendment from Lord Sandon in the Lower House.' 
— ' Church-Life or Sect-Life,' 1859 ; Essays, ii. 414. 

2 For, 202 (102 proxies); against, 41 (14 proxies). On the 
second reading it had been opposed by the Bishop of Exeter ; 
in the concluding debate the Bishop of London opposed, and 
the Bishop of Norwich supported it. 


after the Lords had agreed to the Commons' amend- 
ments, the English Presbyterian Union was dissolved 
and the Unitarian Association remained in possession. 
This immediate despatch of the organ from which he 
had hoped so much, when it had no longer a Parha- 
ment2uy use, seemed to James Martineau positively 
indecent. Even in his latest years he could not 
speak of it without indignation and grief. It was 
an emphatic warning that with the official Uni- 
tarianism of the day he could have no sympathy.^ 
Not till its spirit was transformed would effective 
co-operation with it be possible for him. To bring 
about that change was to be part of his work in 
the coming years. 

I The vitriolic articles of Mr. Lloyd on the Endeavours were at 
this time appearing month by month in the Christian Reformer 
See chap. VI IT. 



The Liverpool Controversy brought Mr. Martineau 
into a prominence which he had not sought, and 
forced upon him a kind of labour for which he had 
a pecuhar distaste. To disturb the beliefs of others 
without at the same time kindling in their souls 
a higher faith, seemed to him like a crime against 
the Spirit. The more conscious he was himself of 
slowly passing through great changes, which in- 
volved a complete reconstruction of his theology, 
the less was he willing to expose others to danger. 
His task was to conduct those to whom he ministered 
along a ' path of life,' to show them how to find new 
grounds of trust in the very constitution of their 
conscience and affections, and to present these as 
historically realised in the person of the founder of 
Christianity. To this the next years of his ministry 
were dedicated. Traces of revolt against his Uni- 
tarian environment will be noticed from time to 
time in his letters, but a fresh and most congenial 
field of work was opened to him in 1840, by his 
appointment to the lectureship in philosophy in 
Manchester New College, which returned from York 
in that year to the place of its first activity. Here 
he was thrown into more regular intercourse with 

242 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. vin 

his friend the Rev. J. J. Tayler, and a new and 
treasured intimacy was formed with Francis WiUiam 
Newman. The story of his philosophical labours 
wiU perhaps be best understood when the leading 
features of his Liverpool activity have been described. 

The desire to enrich the devotional services of 
his congregation had swiftly led in Dublin to the 
production of a new h57mn-book. A similar aim 
had long engaged hitn in Liverpool, and was realised 
in 1840 by the publication of Hymns for the Christian 
Church and Home. Fatigues of travel, and the 
' high pressure whirl of his hfe ' connected with 
the opening of his College teaching in October, 
filled his wife's heart with forebodings, but when 
November i arrived — All Saints' Day — and the 
new hymn-book was first used, its introduction was 
signahsed by the noble sermon on ' the Communion 
of Saints.'^ ' Worship,' said the Editor, in the first 
sentence of his preface, ' is an attitude which our 
nature assumes, not for a purpose, but from an 
emotion,^ and to quicken this emotion, in contrast 
with critical rationalism, was the object of the book. 
Truly did it illustrate the Communion of Saints. 
Hymns from the Roman Breviary and the German 
Moravians stood side by side with others by 
the Anghcans Heber, Milman, and Keble, or the 
Nonconformists, Watts, Doddridge, Montgomery, 
and Mrs. Barbauld. Since the DubUn days the 
Wesley hymns had been discovered ; while another 

1 Afterwards published in the Endeavours, vol. i. 


note in the great chorus sounded from Madame 
Guion.^ The music was not forgotten : to each 
h5min was attached a reference to tunes suitable 
for congregational and home singing. These were 
selected by the Editor himself, with the help of his 
eldest boy Russell, who played the tunes, ' he himself 
singing the hymns, and deciding on their suitability. 
We used all to enjoy these evenings,' continues the 
reminiscence of one of his elder daughters, ' and when 
the book came out, my brother then being only about 
nine years old, we had a sort of feeling of partner- 
ship in the work which was very delightful to us.' 

The literary labour involved had been considerable, 
for with two or three exceptions all the hymns were 
traced back to their original sources. Of this exact- 
ness, the following note to Mrs. Gaskell may serve 
as an example. 

Liverpool, Dec. 3, 1852. 
That graceful piece of Phiueas Fletcher's [hymn 415] will be 
found not in his ' Piscatory Eclogues ' but in his ' Miscellanies,' 

1 The new hymnal contained 650 pieces (Dublin, 273). A 
notebook gives a list of 132 books employed in the compilation. 
The genera] arrangement is the same, though the sections are 
much enlarged, and the phrasing of their titles is characteristically 
elaborated. Specially noteworthy is the considerable number 
dealing with death, resurrection, and judgment. Jesus is of 
course exhibited as the Messiah. In several hymns Jesus was 
made the object of poetical address ; and on two occasions these 
gave rise to considerable controversy. The question was raised 
by the Rev. E. Kell in the Inquirer, Dec. 4, 1852, and by the Rev. 
Dr. Beard in the Christian Reformer,iS6i, p. 135. The hymns 
were defended by the Editor on the grounds (i) that in a book 
for pubUc use there must be room for varieties of devotionEil 
expression ; (2) that there is a wide difference between prayer 
and apostrophe, between immediate and mediate devotion ; 
and (3) that the hymns in question were ' indispensable to vera- 
cious and adequate utterance of Christian feehng.' A note 
worthy difference will be observable in the third hymn-book 
of 1874: infra, chap. XII. § vi. 

244 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 1840-1848 [CH. vm 

the fifth poem from the end. It is a. detached hymn without 
context or known occasion. The ' Miscellanies ' onginally ap- 
peared in one quarto volume with the ' Purple Island ' and 
' Piscatory Eclogues ' in 1633 ; but were not reprinted with these, 
and did not appear again, I believe, till the publication of Dr. 
Anderson's Works of the British Poets in 1795 ; in the fourth 
volume of which you will find the hymn in question.i- 

To Mary Carpenter, who had protested against 
the alteration of a verse in a hjman by her Aunt 
Bache, he thus defended himself : — 

Liverpool, April 30, 1846. 
Since PbUip called my attention to this I have so far distrusted 
myself, as to try the experiment of presenting to persons of fine 
taste and good ear the two forms of the first verse, without 
remark :' and I have never found any one to whom the hymn 
was new, hesitate for an instant in his preference of the alteration. 
I often endeavour to correct my judgment in this way : so sure 
am I that we Unitarians are an utterly unpoetical race of people ; 
and that my education and life among this same people are 
likely to spoil the judgments which nature, under more genial 
influences, might have had the insight to pronounce. The 
devotional feeling expressed in many of the Unitarian hymns, 
and to which they may correspond in the reader's mind, is 
genuine and heartfelt : but this alone, without the rich expres- 
sion of a true musical soul, does nothing to make them proper 
hymns : and I continually ask ' Why was this, which would make 
excellent prose, if it stood as a prayer or meditation, forced into 
verse ' ? I am really disinterested in this remark : which applies 
quite as strongly to things written by my sister, and others which 
I am ashamed to have written myself, as to anything else.' 
Depend upon it, my dear Mary, we Unitarians cannot write 
poetry for a generation or two yet : at present it requires some 
effort in us even to bear it Now if you don't scold me 

1 The very interesting pedigree of No. 394, ' Jerusalem, my 
happy home,' is traced by the Editor through a long series of 
phases, in the Inquirer, Oct. 24, 1868. 

2 The altered form was due to William Roscoe. 

* This judgment on his own hymns ' Thy way is in the deep, 
O Lord,' and ' A voice upon the midnight air,' has not been 
ratified by subsequent usage. The anonymity of the first hymn 
was thus explained to Dr. Garrett Horder forty years after : 
' When I wrote that hymn, forty years ago, I think I had some 
German one running in my head, and so did not like to claim it 
as mine.' — Independent, Jan. 18, 1900. 


heartily for my apostacy of taste from the true faith, you will 
have more forbearance than any zealous lady I know. But do 
scold me, whenever you are inclined : it will bring me your 
handwriting again. 

Meanwhile the pulpit and the class-room claimed 
the preacher's service. A new series of sermons 
was begun in November, 1841, under the title 
' What is Christianity ? ' The critic might detect 
the dreaded German influence in the distribution 
of the subjects under (i) Form and (it) Spirit ;* 
and there was no doubt that Mr. Martineau's style 
of preaching was widely different both in subject 
and method from that of the older Unitarianism. 
The revered friend who had already warned him, 
on his settlement in Liverpool, was apparently 
concerned at the absence of Scripture illustration in 
a sermon which he happened to hear, as well as 
at the current reports of his ministerial proceedings 
generally ; and to him in 1838 the Pastor of Paradise 
St. again defended himself. 

To Dr. Lant Carpenter. 

Liverpool, April i6th. 

Your impression that my mind is not imbued with the docu- 
ments of Scripture I know not how to notice or reply to. I 
can only say that they are and always have been my constant 
study, and that my perpetual aim is to lay myself open to their 
impression as if they were fresh, and bad never led me before 
to form an opinion. Doubtless you have by age, as well as per- 
haps assiduity of investigation, the advantage of me In familiarity 
with the New Testament ; but it is not in my power to read now 
with the eyes with which you think I shall read at fifty. I 
cannot preach views which I do not entertain, or withhold those 
which, after the use of all available means and the confirmation 
of repeated reinvestigation, approve themselves to my judgment 
and affections. You may be assured that of all novelties put 
forth to startle and shock, of all assertions of peculiar opinion 

1 The third title in the first series was destined for use half a 
century later, ' The True Seat of Authority in Religion.' 

246 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. vin 

made dogmatically and apart from^ the trains of thought and 
evidence which prepare the way for the admission of their truth 
and the perception of moral and religious value, no one entertains 
a more grave disapprobation than I do. But I cannot speak 
but from my own inner self.* 

It was certainly hard that so devoted a student 
of the Christian records should be reproached for 
indifference to them.^ But the fact was that Mr. 
Martineau was engaged in effecting the great transi- 
tion from an external base of authority to one within. 
His critical studies* had carried him away from the 
old view of revelation ; and his philosophical reflec- 
tion had given him a new view of man. This led 
inevitably to exalted appeals to the human spirit 
as itself an organ of divine truth, which were heard 

^ The shorthand original reads ' with." Frequent incurioe 
in Mr. Martineau's letters show that they must have been written 
rapidly, and his thought often outstripped his pen. 

- The impression produced on the minds of the thoughtful young 
people round him may be gathered from a few sentences drawn 
from a letter (written in 1844) in which a member of one of his 
Sundayclasses describes her view of theaim of his teaching to a girl 
friend, and vindicates him from the criticisms of the undisceming. 
' I can quite agree with Mrs. Y — that harm may be done to Mr. 
Martineau's congregation by his preaching, but it is only to those 
who take up wrong ideas for themselves. Every one who runs 
08. with half an idea, and takes it for granted that he knows 
the whole, must derive injury from it. Whoever wishes to know 
Mr. Mcirtineau's opinions, must not take them from what he gives 
out in one or two sermons, but must combine all that he can hear, 

in any circumstances, fall from his lips I think this is 

Mr. Martineau's highest ambition ; not to give them the truth, 
or to present his views'of it as infallible, but to lead each mind 
earnestly to seek it, and when they think they have found it.not 
to be ashamed of it, but to go on, still seeking more, and thus to 
raise them by their own exertions to be all that they ought to be.' 

3 The course of his thought on the Gospels and on the Apostle 
Paul may be followed with the help of the valuable abstracts of 
lectures in the Life, i. pp. 163 and 142. 

* He had used Faulus, and read Strauss ; he was probably also 
familiar with Schleiermacher. 


with trembling by ears trained to an older religious 
idiom. With the excesses of New England Trans- 
cendentalism Mr. Martineau did not sympathise ; 
its methods were too little systematic for his reso- 
lutely trained thought. But he kept himself well 
informed about its course.^ And no part of his 
teaching aroused greater difficiilties than the new 
doctrine of human nature which had many affinities 
with Transatlantic idealism, and was occasionaJly 
even presented with something of its oracular style. 
In a paper contributed to the Christian Teacher in 
1841, on the Five Points of Christian Faith, the 
writer not only laid stress on faith in the 
moral perceptions of man, but further demanded 
faith in ' the strictly Divine and Inspired Character 
of our own highest Desires and best Affections.' 
No student of Mr. Martineau's works needs to be 
reminded of his personal humility. The modesty 
of his self-estimates is sometimes a bewilderment, 
and sometimes a rebuke. But this was not incon- 
sistent with very exalted views of humanity, as the 
seat and organ of superhuman influences. In his 
Priestleyan modes of thought, he had been wiUing 
to merge everything in the divine. When the whole 
field of volitional control was reserved strictly for 
man, the question arose, what remained for God ? 
The answer was given to the same correspondent 
who had already asked and received solutions of 
other difficulties. 

1 In his copy of The Dial (now in the Library of Manchester 
College, Oxford) he carefully entered the name of each contri- 
butor — secrets which he must have obtained from an American 

248 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH. vin 

To Mary Cakpenter. 

Liverpool, November 3, 1845. 
As to prayer, I would say that the question ' What we get 
by it ? ' appears to me so much a suggestion of religious Util- 
tarianism, that I always feel some repugnance to entertaining 
it at all. Be the answer to it what it may, it would make no 
difierence to me ; and I should ' ask,' though I did not ' receive.' 
But are we sure that we can draw the distinction with any 
exactitude, between our own minds and the divine Spirit, so as 
to say what phenomena are due to their several activities, and 
to deny to the Holy Spirit any share in the states of affection 
consequent on prayer ? Does the fact that a moral condition 
of the mind belongs to our Reason and Conscience, exclude it 
from the Divine Agency ? or are there faculties in us which 
ascend into the Divine nature, and (ii for shortness I may use 
the expression) entangle our nature with his ? But here we ap- 
proach the great Free-will question, into which, in fact, tins 
other runs. For my own psirt, in spite of the charge of mjrsticism; 
I believe that there is a properly supernatural element in man, 
by which he stands above nature in the very same sense, though 
in a lower degree of course, in which God is above nature. If 
we apply natural, i.e., Cause and Effect, reasonings to that which 
concerns this element, we get all wrong ; and hence, I think, 
the difficulties about prayer. 

The sermons issued in 1843 under the title 
Endeavours after the Christian Life, breathe through- 
out this atmosphere of life ' in spirit.' Here the 
divine and human are presented in constant union 
within the scene of our moral and religious experience. 
The prophet from his mount of vision discerns God 
for ever mingling with man, and the philosopher 
does not attempt to part them. The second dis- 
course on ' the Besetting God ' still frankly sur- 
renders the whole of Nature into the Divine hands 
as fully as the college student had done twenty years 
before^ ; but no longer is the sum of our activities 
absorbed into his ; we are persons, in relation to him 
intimate and sacred indeed, yet nevertheless capable 
of resisting his claim and refusing to surrender to 

^See the Essays of 1824, ante, pp. 49-52. 

i] THE ' Endeavours ' 249 

lis appeals. A note of what may be called Christian 
itoicism sounds again and again through the in- 
istence on the sovereignty of duty, and the lordship 
•f self-control. Never was the ethical demand 
mforced more fervently, or presented with austerer 
lignity. Those who had only known the writer 
)y his intrepid polemics, found here an unexpected 
)ractical wisdom, and a tender and supporting 
ympathy. The preacher, as we know, had long 
earned that he must prepare himself for such 
itterances alone. Only in solitude, he will tell us 
lereafter,^ can he pass into that inner colloquy 
vith God in which he can pour forth his soul to the 
ilost High : ' preaching is essentially a lyric expres- 
ion of the soul.' Its actual form, therefore, is half 
)oetical ; it clothes itself in a vesture of imagination ; 
t presents the unseen with the aid of symbols 
ouched with ' the light that never was on sea or 
and.' This is the secret of the constant use of meta- 
phor ; this is the ground of the charges of mysticism 
nd obscurity which these discourses immediately 
rovoked.^ Precisely similar criticisms, from a 
luch wider range of readers, but a corresponding 
rder of minds, assailed In Memoriam, with whose 

* Preface to vol. ii., 1847. This volume was dedicated to Mr. 
horn. In conveying a copy to him, he wrote : * Thoughts of 
Bu are entwined, in various indirect ways, with several of its 
artions ; and there are probably few of its discourses that would 
3t have been different, had I never known you.' Life, i. l8o. 

* The Editor of the Christian Reformer permitted a contributor 
> devote six monthly articles to the dissection of the preacher's 
iag:ery, and similar agreeable exercises. After the second article 
series of counter ' strictures ' began. It is difficult to tell whether 
le critic or the champion gave the author the greater discomfort, 
ven Mr. Tayler (Christian Teacher) found the style too uniformly 
igh-coloured and brilliant, and the figures occasionally hard. 

250 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. viil 

spirit these sennons show so marked an affinity. 
Martineau is, in fact, the Tennyson of preachers. 
There is the same fastidiousness of form, the same 
concentrated phraseology, the same lyric intensity, 
the same ascent into a realm where thought and 
emotion are transfused into each other, and both are 
recognised as giving the soul immediate access to a 
divine life that at once pervades and transcends them. 
Such preaching, it was plain, could never be 
popular. No one could have expected Tennyson 
to shout his cantos in the market-place, and Mar- 
tineau would have felt utterance equally impossible 
in the face of a listening crowd. There was inevit- 
able effort in its production, and it demanded cor- 
responding effort in the listener. To his friend 
Thom, in 1840, he had written (apropos of a marriage 
gift of a clock), ' I love the thought of that fraternal 
tick on your study mantel-piece ; and on many a 
Saturday shall seek an inspiration in the idea of 
the fair pure thoughts it is measuring out, with 
pain indeed, like my own, but a glorious and Scinctify- 
ing pain.' Just as the speaker in Paradise Street 
had been obliged to educate his hearers, so the 
wider appeal through the press did not at first win 
general response. But here and there it fell upon 
ears attuned to its penetrating tones. Mr. Richard 
Hutton afterwards ascribed to it the real ' beginning 
of his life.'^ In the seclusion of an Irish estate, 
wrestling alone with her life-problems, Frances 
Power Cobbe* learned from one who could interpret 

1 Retirement Proceedings, p. 37. 

2 Contemporary Review, 1900, p. 175. 

f u] THE ' Endeavours ' 251 

to her ' the Strength of the Lonely.' The Master of 
Trinity College, Cambridge, found here something 
more than correction of his faulty logic.'- A little 
later Thomas Henry Huxley carried a volume with 
him to the Southern Seas. And Frederick William 
Robertson fed his spirit on the energies of a kindred 
soul ; and became himself a channel by which 
Martineau's thoughts could be interpreted to 
thousands more.^ Long since have the Endeavours 
taken their place among the choicest utterances 
of English religion in the nineteenth century. 


Preaching and teaching did not exhaust Mr. 
Martineau's conceptions of ministerial duty. From 
pastoral visiting, as it had been practised by an 
elder race, he constitutionally shrank, and he bore 
(not always without inner struggle) the inevitable 
criticisms upon this failure to satisfy traditional 
demands. To Mary Carpenter, who had sent him a 
scheme of a Congregational Visiting Society, estab- 
lished at Lewin's Mead, Bristol, he explained his 
difficulties in February, 1841. 

I have often wished that, in the constitution of our congrega- 
tions, there was some provision for apprising the Minister of 
the cases of iUuess or distress in which his prompt attention 
would be acceptable. I do not think the habits and feelings 
of the present day are favourable to the systematic plans of 
pastoral calling which prevailed two generations ago, and enabled 

1 See infra, chap. IX, § ii. 

2 In the Expositor, Sept., 1903, the Rev. John Hoatson has 
strikingly illustrated this efiect of Martineau on Robertson. 
He estimates that at least 62 out of 125 sermons by Robertson 
show traces of the influence of 37 out of 43 sermons in the twq 
volumes of the Endeavours (1843 and 1847). 

252 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. vin 

a Minister to discover at once the vicissitudes of every family : 
nor can I ever persuade myself that this occupation of time 
is other than idle and unprofitable, except in the case of the 
Minister's possessing a rare aptitude for conversational influence. 
But in the absence of such a system of indiscriminate visiting, 
some method is much wanted of making prompt selection of cases 
which open an opportunity of good. As to the whole eleemosynary 
question which your Society opens again to one's consideration. 
It is the most perplexing and anxious subject to which I ever 
turn my thoughts ; on which I can discover no satisfactory 
guiding principle to determine the conflict between a Christian 
compassion and a Christian economy ; so that I never give and 
never withhold without compunction. I fear it is quite impossible 
to disentangle the mischief of charity from its good. However, evil 
is not to be let alone ; and we must grapple with it with such forces 
as God gives, and, if we cannot do much, must be content to do well. 

Accordingly any case of personal need that rightly 
fell within his range — a d5dng sexton, — provision 
for some poor pensioner, — received prompt sym- 
pathy and punctual aid. In the management of 
the schools maintained by the congregation he took 
an active share ; he held a Bible class in each school 
(Boys and Girls) once (and sometimes twice) a week ; 
he was steadfast as visitor and minister, and 
assiduous in every administrative duty ; the staff 
of teachers found in him a generous and sympathetic 
helper ; while changes among them often involved 
copious correspondence and patient judgment. On 
the smaller congregations of Lancashire he kept a 
watchful eye ; and though unable to visit them 
frequently, he was occasionally heard in their pulpits. 
Of such an excursion he wrote to his friend Thom, 
July 20, 1841, ' I was so delighted with the strong- 
headed and true-hearted Christianity of these village 
churches, that I almost ventured to promise for you.'^ 

1 It may have been of such hearers that Dr. Sadler long after 
told the following anecdote. ' My recollections of him lead me 
back a long way — ^longer than he may, perhaps, himself suppose-^ 


Such outside duties added to the causes which kept 
Mr. Martineau from the homes of his people. But 
however they might long for more intimate inter- 
course, they knew that the conditions of his ministry 
rendered it impossible ; he gave them his best and 
never spared himself, and with such service they 
learned to be content. An incident of the summer 
of 1841 called forth a significant indication of their 

The action of a broker whom he had trusted, 
involved a sudden loss of £1,100. Mrs. Martineau's 
diary gives us a glimpse of the mingled feelings 
which the catastrophe involved : — ' I need only say 
that James bears it like his noblest self, and having 
no cause to reproach himself with even a want of 
business knowledge, he feels that he can only bow 
to a higher will than his own. I own I don't know 
what to say on this head, for I believe that such 

beginning with the Aggregate Meeting which I think he will 
recollect, in Essex Street, in 1838, when he made a speech which 
produced a great impression, but which was not listened to 
without a good deal of interruption. When I think of what I 
used to hear then of his views and tendencies, I cannot but 
contrast it with the confidence with which he is looked up to 
now, and with the universality of the reverence in which he is 
held. It seems strange that he should have caused so much 
apprehension, considering that he was represented as preaching 
above people's heads. An old friend of mine, a descendant of 
Dr. Priestley, told me that she once had a significant rebuke 
for acting on this assumption. Dr. Martineau had preached two 
school sermons, which were delightful to the more cultivated 
members of the congregation, but, as they thought, out of the 
reach of ordinary hearers. My friend, happening to meet an old 
woman of the working class, asked " How did you like the sermons 
on Sunday ? " The reply was, " I Uked them very much indeed." 
My friend said, " But could you understand them ? " The old 
woman answered, " Oh yes, I could understand them ; I suppose 
they were too clever for you." ' Speech at the retirement of 
Dr. Martineau, Proceedings, 1885, p. 33. 

254 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. viil 

a transaction must be alike hateful to God and man.' 
It became known that the event swept away not 
only ' every farthing of his fifteen years' hard 
savings,' but a small portion of family property 
besides, held in trust for others. Within a few weeks 
the journal again records — ' We hear that the noble 
deed has been done towards us of which Mr. B. 
gave notice before we left home. Upwards of £1000 
win soon be in the bank for us, so we are free again 
however the lawsuit ends.^ It would be difficult 
to say whether my husband loses his property or 
accepts such a gift most nobly. Wholly independent 
yet sensitive to the last degree, he is not weighed 
down by it in the least, yet feels it as much more 
than money's worth.' 

Many were the interests of the ensuing years. 
The agitation about the Com Laws was rising, 
and the same letter to Mr. Thorn which thanks 
him for his S5mipathy in the recent loss, discusses 
the problem of ministerial duty in relation to 
political action. The difficulty was not, apparently, 
the introduction of the question into the pulpit ; 
but the propriety of the participation of ministers 
in a great social controversy. ' We ought to stand 
aloof from aU controversies,' is his conclusion, ' of 
which the essence and subject matter do not lie 
within the province of reUgion and morids.'^ The 
apphcation of the test led to the result that — 
' If I were in America, I could not be silent about 
slavery ; and that, being in England, it isn't right 

1 The suit was instituted under the advice of friends. The 
lawyers employed refused to take any fees. 
»Z.tV«, i. 179. 


to join in a Sacred War against Sir Robert Peel 
and the Corn Laws.'^ On the slavery question he 
felt strongly and pleaded earnestly in letters to 
his friend Dewey.^ To Mr. Thom he wrote with 
indignation of the tone of some of the American 
notices which followed Dr. Channing's death in 
1842, veiling the significance of his great protest 
against a wrong involving the whole nation in respon- 
sibility. But with characteristic detachment from 
sectarian agitation, he refused to join in an address 
from Unitarian ministers in England to their brethren 
in America, on the ground that as the right to rebuke 
did not exist, its effect would be sure to be simple 
resistance.^ The concluding words deserve atten- 

1 This was in July, 1841. Experience and reflection modified 
his view. On February 24, 1843, he spoke at a great meeting 
of the inhabitants of Liverpool in the Music Hall, summoned 
to petition Parliament for the total and immediate repeal of 
the bread and provision taxes. Even the Inquirer (March 18) 
reported that ' the manner in which he overwhelmed by a quota- 
tion from Plato's Commonwealth an unfortunate writer in the 
Agricultural Advocate, who treats the modern political economists 
as altogether worthless, and wishes to appeal from them for the 
principles of society to Plato and Aristotle, elicited great ap- 
plause.' His appearances on the platform were rare : but on 
April 10, in the same place, surrounded by Congregationalists, 
Methodists, and CathoUcs, he denounced the provisions of Sir 
James Graham's Factory Education Bill. ' I hope we have 
put the extinguisher upon Sir J. Graham's Factory Scheme,' 
he wrote to a correspondent at Padiham, April 27. ' Never 
was a more insidious Bill brought into the House within my 
recollection." The Education clauses of this Bill were strongly 
condemned in the of Commons by Lord John Russell 
and others for placing the educational provision ' too much, 
if not entirely, under the control of the clergy.' Meetings were 
Held all over the country, and the measure was ultimately with- 
drawn. 2 i,ife^ i. 173-4. 

3 Letter to the Rev. W. James, Bristol, Sept. 21, 1843. The 
address, with 190 signatures, was published in the Inquirer, 
Dec. 9. A similar difficulty arose in 1847 : and to the same 
correspondent Mr. Martineau pleaded that there might be slave- 

256 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH. vm 

tion : ' Finally, let me own to a personal conscious- 
ness of imperfectly discharged duty so deep and 
abiding, that I find enough to do at home : and 
till a better and higher order of conscience is estab- 
lished there, till fear and negligence and f orgetfulness 
of those who have none to help, are put under 
the foot of a Christian devotedness, I cannot bear 
down with rebuke on others, without hearing the 
whisper, " let him that is without sin cast the first 
stone." ' Dr. Channing's penetrating remarks on 
the wretched condition of the English labouring 
population had deeply moved him. His economic 
studies begot distrust of large legislative schemes ; 
and his strong grasp of moral principles as the true 
forces of social order, made him look rather to the 
elevation of character than to the improvement 
of external conditions.^ On the alert against any 
oppression of the weak, he demanded faithfulness 
from the workman with the same unflinching 
insistence with which he enforced responsibiUty 
on the employer or the landowner.* With the 
irresponsible ardours of the socialism of the day 

holders who retained their slaves on grounds of thoughtful 
conscientiousness (if he had an estate with fifty slaves suddenly 
left him, be might regard immediate manumission as a criminal 
evasion of responsibility). As slavery was the crime of the State 
and not the individual, effort should be directed not to censuring 
the whole class of slaveholders, some of whom might (in Channing's 
phrase) ' deserve great praise," but to securing such reform 
in state laws of property eis would make slavery impossible. 

^ See the two sermons on ' the Kingdom of God within us,' 
Endeavours, vol. i. 

* The great sermon on the Irish Famine in 1847, Essays, iv. 
409, enabled him to combine personal knowledge with social 
theory and stem denunciation of neglected duty. Nowhere is 
the doctrine that property is a trust more strenuously enforced. 

§ii] SOCIALISM 257 

he had no sympathy : of a candidate for ministerial 
employment he thus wrote to his friend Wicksteed, 
July 28, 1845 :— 

My general impression from all these things, and from his 
Tracts, is, that he is a man full of vehement discontent, half 
noble, half personal, who will preach of Love with a tongue of 
scorn ; clear about the nonsense and wrong there is in the world, 
but in the dark about the faith and good which should take their 
place : in fact, a frock-coated, bare-necked, long-haired Re- 
generator, of the Fox and Linwood School ; — a cross-breed 
between the Robert Owen and the Thomas Carlyle species. 
With these impressions, and no means of adequately correcting 
them if they be erroneous, I should not Uke to be responsible 
for his entrance into our ministry. 

With Robert Owen he had had some acquaintance,^ 
as is implied in the following letter, copied in Mrs. 
Martineau's journal, 1843, under the severe heading 
' in answer to an unknown and meddling socialist.' 

Sir, — I have received from you a letter of remonstrance against 
certain expressions reported to hive been applied by me to the 
SociaUsts, in some sermon preached nine or ten months ago. As 
you are unable to quote the expressions with sufficient accuracy to 
bring them to my recollection, it is as impossible for me to defend 
them as for you to assail them with effect. I can only say that 
poor as my opinion is of the pretensions of the Socialists' system 
to the attention of thoughtful and right-minded men, I have 
never deemed it necessary to speak of it in language half as 
vehement as that which your own letter applies to its opponents. 
Whatever disapprobation of your principles I may have expressed, 
has been accompanied by a statement of reasons for my estimate. 
It appears that as usual in such cases, the disapproval was 
remembered, and the argument forgotten ; or, it may be, was 
not even recognised as argument at all by some hearer accustomed 
to miss this element altogether in everything which does not 
repeat his own processes and conclusions. 

And, as I have not spoken of Owenism with unreflecting anger, 
neither have I spoken of it with imperfect knowledge. A personal 
acquaintance with the founder of the system, and a familiarity 
with its favourite writings, justifies me in the attempt to form 
a judgment of its merits, as weU as in the resolution to express it. 

Not being called upon in reparation of any inadvertence or 

1 In later life he often spoke of him with great respect. 


258 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 1840-1848 [cH. vin 

iajustice to enter into any further exposition of my views, I 
must beg to decline all controversy on this subject, as a hopeless 
waste of that time for whose use I hold myseU responsible. In 
morbid conditions of society, a class of men always has been 
and always will be found, to whom the characteristic principles 
of the Socialist theory will be acceptable, and will appear true. 
I certainly regret the existence, and think unfavourably of the 
influence of this class. But after such observation and reflection 
as I can direct on the state of mind which constitutes its pecuU- 
arity, I am persuaded that its conversion must be wrought, 
not by logical discussions, but by the severer tuition of events.* 

Other movements, such as those for Temperance 
and Peace, in due course demanded his attention. 
His more ardent friends saw with regret that his 
attitude did not always fulfil their hopes. He 
adopted, indeed, in 1844 a habit of resolute total 
abstinence, and in 1845 dehvered a strong speech 
in its favour at Patricroft.^ Students at Manchester 
New College some thirty years later noted with 
amusement the unconscious simplicity of his avowal 
(in a College debate) that he had two or three times 
taken the pledge (in coimexion with various Bands 
of Hope), and had never had any difficulty in keeping 
it.^ But he could not bring himself to use the 
language of extremer advocates against the unhappy 
object of reproof, the ' moderate drinker ' ; and 
preferred to concentrate his attack upon the moral 
weakness (as he deemed it) which led to habits of 
excess. Writing to Mary Carpenter in September, 
1845, concerning the engagements of an approaching 

* In later dajrs he used to look more genially on the Socialist 
tendencies of some of his students. It was a kind of fever 
which it was well for them to have had. 

* On Sept. ist. The speech was reported in the Inquirer, 
Sept. 6, 1845, and reprinted in the same journal, 1895. 

' His experience is recorded in a letter, Dec. i, 1882, in a volume 
entitled Study and Stimulants. 


visit to Bristol, he hopes to find time for ' convincing 
Russell that I neither fight nor drink, though not 
quite up to the mark of his praiseworthy zeal 
against war and alcohol.' 

With the Peace movement,^ indeed, he was far 
less in sjnnpathy. In days before the treaties 
of International Arbitration it was not difficult 
to see extravagances and exaggerations in its 
advocates. For Mr. Martineau, the ethical impli- 
cations of any given constitutional order were so 
numerous and imperative, the duties and obligations 
of the State towards its citizens were so clear, 
that he looked with impatience on vast and inflated 
ideas which soared above existing conditions, and 
made short work of national responsibilities.* To 
this feeling emphatic expression is given in a letter 
to Mr. Wicksteed concerning an article by Mr. 
F. W. Newman for the Prospective Review.^ 

Liverpool, July 13, 1846. 
My dear Friend, — The check which Newman gives to the 
absurdities of the Peace movement, is, I confess, so acceptable 
to me, that I am not impressed by the deficiencies which you 
observe in the Article.* Convinced as I am that the abstract 
treatment of the subject, as one on which Christian principle must 
decide with definite Yes or No, cannot advance us a single step, 
I am pleased to see a claim made for a re-hearing of the whole 
case in the old Court of Appeal, to which our best writers resort ; 

* This had been startPd a few years before, but became very 
active in 1846. On April 14, Mr. Richard Rathbone delivered 
an Address as President of the Liverpool Peace Society. 

2 The Sermons on National Duties contain an impressive 
vindication of the ' right of war.' 

* This was founded in 1845. As it served for some years as 
the chief organ of Mr. Martineau's philosophical writing, the 
story of it is reserved for the next chapter. 

* ' The True Grandeur of Nations,' Prospective, 1846, p. 355. 
Reprinted in Newman's Miscellanies, vol. ii., 188 1, p. 11. 

26o PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH.vm 

where historical data are given in evidence, and presented by 
Moral Philosophy on the Bench, to a Jury of Common Sense 
and Common Justice. The moral tone of the article seems to 
me severe and high ; so that it reads, not as a plea of Necessity 
against Right, but as a protest of enlighteued Conscience against 
a sincere but effeminate humanity. 

How Mr. Martineau appeared about this time 
to an outsider, of pitiless judgment and incom- 
parable gifts of epistolary satire, may be seen in 
the correspondence of Mrs. Carlyle.^ 

To Thomas Caklyle. 

[Liverpool] July 17, 1844. 
Most of the company were Unitarians ; the men with faces 
like a meat-axe ; the women most palpably without bustles, — 
a more unlovable set of human beings I never looked on. How- 
ever, I had a long, rather agreeable talk with James Martineau, 
the only ' Ba-ing 1 could love ' of the whole nightmare looking 
fraternity. He is a man with a ' subdued temper,' or I am 
greatly mistaken ; but he is singularly in earnest for a Unitarian. 
Bold enough to utter any truth that he has, in season and out of 
sesison, and as afiectionate-hearted as a woman (I use the common 
form of expression without recognising the justice of it). 

July 22, 1844. 
I am rather knocked up to-day ; my stewing in that Church 
yesterday morning, and my visit to the Martineaus at night, 
were too much for one day : — not that the visit bored me like 
the sermon ; on the contrary it was far too entertaining. I 
found there the clergyman who had preached to me in the morning 
and three other men. And there was a great deal of really clever 
speech transacted, — ^which was the more exciting that one is 
not in the habit of it here. If you had heard me ' putting down 
virtue and all that sort of thing,' in opposition to the sermon 
I had been forced to listen to in the morning, you would have 
wondered where I had found the impudence. As for the argu- 
ments, I got them, of course, aU out of you. But the best of 
all was to hear James Martineau taking me out in all that, — almost 
as emphatically as yourself could have done. In taking me down 
to supper, he said with a heavy sigh that ' it was to be hoped the 
world would soon have heard the last of aU that botheration 
of virtue and happiness.' He is anything but happy, I am sure ; 
a more concentrated expression of melancholy I never saw in a 

^ New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, 1903, 
vol. i. p. 150. 


human face. I fancy him to be the victim of conscience, which 
is the next thing to being the victim of green tea ! His heart and 
intellect both protest against this bondage ; and so he is a man 
divided against himself. I should like to convert him — moi I 
If he could be reduced into a wholesome state of spontaneous 
blackguardism for six months, he would ' come out very strong.' 
But he feels that there is no credit in being (spiritually) joUy 
in his present immaculate condition. And so he is as sad as any 
sinner of us all. 

Next year the report of the patient is much the 
same. On Aug. 10, 1845, Mrs. Carlyle writes, 
'J. M. seems to be still fighting it out with his 
conscience, abating no jot of heart or hope.' He 
argued with Miss Jewsbury about ' the softening 
tendencies of our age,' ' the S5mipathy for knaves 
and criminals,' and the ' stupidity of expectmg to 
be happy through doing good.' Apropos of Crom- 
well's doings in Ireland he remarked to Mrs. Carlyle 
that ' people make a great deal more outcry over 
massacres than there is any occasion for : one does 
not understand that exorbitant respect for human 
life, in overlooking or violating everything that 
makes it of any value.' But when the lady ' told 
him quite frankly that he had better cut Uni- 
tarianism and come over to us,' ' he sighed and shook 
his head ; and said something about being bound 
to remain in the sphere appointed to him, till he 
was fairly drawn out of it by his conscience.'^ 

There were, however, limits to Mrs. Carlyle's 
penetration ; the implied charge of even unconscious 
insincerity after another twelvemonth will not seem 
just to any reader who has patiently followed the fore- 
going attempt to display the process of his thought. 

^Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, 1883, vol. 1. 
pp. 322. 330- 

262 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH. viil 

To Thomas Carlyle. 

Liverpool, August 31, 1846. 
I went to hear James Martineau yesterday morning, as a 
compromise betwixt going to Family Church and causing a 
Family disturbance by staying at home. The sermon was 
' no-go.' The poor man had got something to say which he 
did not believe, and he did not conceal the difficulty he found 
in conforming. Flowers of rhetoric without end, to cover over 
the barrenness of the soil. I felt quite wae for him ; he looked 
such a picture ot conscientious anguish while he was overlaying 
his Christ with similes and metaphors, that people might not 
see what a wooden puppet he had made of him to himself — 
in great need of getting flung overboard after the virgin Mary, 
' ^ladame sa Mfere.' 

Against this portrait by a critic let us set a sketch 
from within by the preacher himself. 

To Mr. Piper. 

Liverpool, March 17, 1845. 
Come and see us, and we will discuss together our theology, 
and you shall put your demand to me, 80s irov o-tu). Meanwhile, 
is it consistent with firm standing on the fatith we have, to speak 
of ' policy ' and ' rashness ' in the maintenance or enunciation 
of religious doctrine ? Nothing is so disheartening to me in 
these days, as to look about in vain for anyone who advocates 
and professes his alleged belief from the simple consideration 
of true and falseA With nothing else can we have anything to 
do ; and precisely in proportion as other considerations are 
admitted, we abandon ourselves to a genuine ' infideUty.' Neither 
' to find,' as you say, ' the ne plus ultra of a Christian faith,' 
nor to effect anything else, is the ' endeavour ' of any of us. We 
have no object but to Uve truthfully, and pretend to nothing 
that is not really in us ; to affect no novelties, but to dress up no 
questionable things, and be afraid of no realities. For my own 
part I war against no man's honest and earnest convictions. 
But by a thousand symptoms of natural language, I see in our 

1 Of this temper he had sufficient illustration in the autumn 
after the publication of his sermon on ' the Bible and the Child,' 
July, 1845, Essays, iv. 389. A Norwich correspondent, for 
instance, resisted with mild protests, ' resolved finally into regret 
at the too great insistency with which I express what is in itself 
true, but need not be so plainly stated ! ' Lady Byron, on the 
other hand, moved by the same sermon, ' tells how in her schools 
she has tried to minimise if she does not wholly exclude, the use 
of the Old Testament in teaching the children.' 



body as in others, an abominable and rotten expediency creeping 
into the Church, utterly destructive of the very spirit of religion, 
and leaving our Christianity an empty idol. And this canker 
of conservative insincerity I would cut out, if I could, at any cost. 
We are getting a Creed, while we are losing a Faith. But as for 
the ridiculous suspicion of unbelief thrown out against some of us, 
I can only say that the whole course of my own belief for many 
years past, nay through my entire ministerial life, has been 
towards a higher and higher estimate of the divine and super- 
natural character of Christianity. The grounds of this conviction 
have undergone modification, but the conviction itself none, 
except an ever deepening intensity. Forgive this tediousness, 
but you rather put me on my self-defence.* 


In August, 1844, soon after he had entertained 
Mrs. Carlyle at supper, Mr. Martineau moved into a 
house in Prince's Park, to which he gave the name 
of Park Nook. With the heart of a mystic, he 
had also an inborn love of construction. This house 
he had planned himself, and as the irregularities of 
the ground involved certain difficulties of adjust- 
ment, his faculty of design secured unusual occupa- 
tion. Here family assemblies took place ; while 
the study was the scene of many a happy meeting 
of the editorial quartet which guided the fortunes 
of the Prospective. Here brother ministers were 
welcomed, and English and foreign guests enter- 
tained. The poet Bryant had passed through 
Liverpool a few months before the change ; but 
Theodore Parker came just at the settling-in ; 
then it was George Dawson, and after him (in 1847) 
Emerson, who went to hear the preacher in Paradise 
Street, and was sent on to London with the promise 

1 In this year a third edition of the Rationale appeared with a 
preface in which he gave effect to the promise in his letter to 
Mr. Macdonald, 1840 : see ante, chap. VII. p. 232. 

264 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [ch. vin 

to F. W. Newman, ' He will not offend you as 
Carlyle did.'^ Here, as Mr. Martineau wrote to 
the Rev. G. Crabbe (1847) he hoped to end his days, 
' for when a man reaches the age of forty-two, 
removals cease to be desirable.*" Much personal 
labour was spent upon the house, and its mainten- 
ance and beautification were a source of interest 
and recreation to him. In these matters he sub- 
mitted to no conventions. Now he was to be seen 
astride upon the ridge of the roof, regulating the 
action of a sort of small windmill of his own design, 
which pumped up the water for domestic use. Or, 
with a paper cap upon his head, and clad in an old 
evening coat from which the tails had been removed, 
he stood on the pathway painting his gate. One 
day, he related with great amusement many years 
later, to a friend who was curious as to the sources 
of his practical knowledge about the repairs needful 

for a great pile of school buildings, Mrs. drove 

up. Not recognising the painter, she put her head 
out of the window and called ' Hi ! my good man ! 
Why don't you open the gate ? ' He opened the 
gate, took off his cap, and made a low bow as the 
carriage swept up the drive, and the astonished 

^ Mi. Newman bad then left Manchester, and accepted the 
chaJT of Latin in University College. The reference is probably 
to an incident at the house of Mr. A. J. Scott (formerly assistant 
to Edward Irving, and afterwards first Principal of the Owens 
College, Manchester). Dr. W. B. Carpenter used to relate an 
encounter which took place that night between Carlyle and the 
new Latin Professor, in which Carlyle denounced toleration, 
and growlingly defended Calvin for burning Servetus. When 
he had gone, Mr. Newman held up his hands in amazement, 
and with the sweet simplicity and unworldliness which endeared 
him to those who had the honour of his friendship, asked ' Does 
Mr. Carlyle always talk like that ? ' 


occupant discovered whom she had so impatiently 

The change was refreshing from the close hot 
Streets of the town. The look of unhappiness which 
Mrs. Carlyle noted, was doubtless partly due to the 
fatigue of a severe day's work, and the continuous 
pressure of many years of unceasing labour. Mrs. 
Martineau noted the signs of overstrain : ' Some- 
times I am dazzled myself so by his brightness 
that I will not believe he is burning out inevitably, 
and will have no old age ; and in an agony I think 
how often our friends tell me how iU he looks ' : 
or a few weeks later, — ' He lives but in aspiration ; 
and as his poor mother said to me to-day, " He lays 
not his account for long life," or rather as I replied 
to her, " He does but his present duty yearningly 
and faithfully, and calculates not whither it may be 
carrying him." ' 

He himself had by no means lost the youthful 
attitude of reverence for his seniors even at forty : 
and when he was requested to give the address at 
the quinquennial meeting of York students, he wrote 
to his old College friend Franklin Howorth in the 
following terms : — 

Liverpool, May 30, 184$, 

My dear Howorth, — When I was at Manchester on Wednesday, 
Mr. Wallace conveyed to me the request of the Quinquennial 
Committee, that I would deUver an address at the ensuing meeting 
of York and Manchester alumni. To have been ranked by the 
Committee among those who are fitted for such a task is an 
honour of which I am very sensible. And usually I think it is 
light to make the duties of such Committees as easy as possible 
by freely placing oneself at disposal for any work which their 
judgment may assign. But in this case I find it impossible to 
adhere to this doctrine of passive obedience. Without at all 
pretending to claim the exemptions of youth, I yet cannot assume 
the prerogative of age ; and when I think of addressing such men 

266 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 1840-1848 [ch. viii 

as Messrs. Hutton, Robberds, Madge, Wallace, Tayler, with others 
both lay and divine to whom I have been accustomed to look up 
from boyhood, I feel as though I should sink into the earth. 
And at the very place where those men axe most brought to mind 
as honoured predecessors, and the old reverential feeling is 
sure to come back with all its force, — I really could not do it. 
To qualify me would require two or three quinquennial growths 
of confidence and wisdom. In fact, I have made up my mind 
to go to this meeting irresponsible and free, or not at all.'- The 
whole charm of the thing will be to revert to the undress of twenty 
years ago, and live as a student among students again : and I 
for my part will commit myseU to notlung but rowing, bathing, 
laughmg, crying, and other more serious humanity, of which 
nothing need be said. Ever affectionately yours, 

James Maetinead. 

Meantime a grave anxiety had entered the new 
home. Early in 1845, Herbert Martineau, then 
nine years old, became seriously ill. The disease 
was mysterious, and its long course was marked by 
fitfulness of improvement and decline, which alter- 
nately raised the hopes, and deepened the fears, 
of the anxious parents. Autumn passed into winter, 
and the inevitable close drew near. Only the ex- 
quisite serenity of the boy himself, his tender 
consideration for those around him, his sweetness 
of trust as he listened to music, arranged the shells 
which his friend the Rev. Philip P. Carpenter had 
given him, gazed at the drawings and sacred pictures 
with which friends surrounded his couch, or repeated 
the familiar hymns which his mother had taught 
him to love — sustained the spirits of those who 
foresaw the end. March arrived, and on the 8th 
Mrs. Martineau made the pathetic record : — 

These Sundays are almost more than his poor father can bear. 

^ He was in fact prevented from being present. ' It was 
impossible,' he wrote to Mr. Wicksteed afterwards, ' to explain 
the reason of my absence. Friends should be willing, now and 
then, to take one's conduct on trust in matters morally indififerent.' 


I hardly knew till last night how much he had suffered last Sunday 
when he revealed to me that he had well nigh sunk : but it was 
the Lord's Supper service which almost broke him down, and 
to-day I trust there may be nothing so touching to him. But 
to have all upon him just as usual, and the feeUng that his duties 
should go on just the same, yet with this long and hopeless 
sorrow spending him, and paralysing his writing powers ! He 
says he feels that he has grown twenty years older in these three 
sad months.' 

Before the dawn of March 28th, 1846, Herbert 
passed away. The stricken father wrote to his 
friend Thorn, ' At present my desire is to render him 
back to God by my own act ; both because he who 
has held the gift is fittest to resign it, and because 
I dread the too touching voice of such a friend as 
you. We are well and tranquil.' On April i, 
after a solemn service of consecration in the study, 
in which the whole family united, the mortal frame 
of the boy was laid in the grave-yard of the Ancient 
Chapel, Toxteth Park. Ere the day ran out, the 
father poured out his sorrow to his son's friend, 
Philip Carpenter. 

Liverpool, April i, 1846. 
My dearest Philip, — Your precious lines of sympathy present 
themselves most suitably on the morning when we have taken 
our leave of what once was Herbert. I have longed to write to 
you ; but while the lingering appeal to his patience and ours 
continued, I could only say ' We wait, and bear him in our hands 
before God, to see whether the lot of heaven or earth is to fall 
on him.' Yet I ought to have thanked you for your many price- 
less letters to him. They were his pride and delight, and no name 
more often came out in his sweet dying tones than yours. I 
did not choose to urge upon him. the idea of death : if nature 
does not suggest it, I do not think that we should. It is the 
proper work of our faith to sustain and tranquilise under the 
expectation of death when it comes ; but as there is no duty 
beyond the quiet reception of each moment and stage of decline 
as it is sent, there seems no wisdom in artificially offering the 
image which does not spontaneously unveil itself. So we con- 
cealed no truth; and we anticipated none. And there was an 
unconscious religion in that dear boy which met every emergency 
in the purest spirit, and disinclined me to make lus state the 

258 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [ch. viii 

subject of conscious talk. The question of his recovery, he said 
in his cheerful placid way, he would leave entirely to God : and 
though he sometimes prayed to be restored, his only constant 
prayer was that his mother might not be worn down by attending 

upon him However, it is over, now; and he is gone to 

a shelter and a training more worthy of him than any we could 
give. I trust he will draw our hearts upwards ; and as we follow 
the vestiges which he has everywhere left on this place, and all 
its employments, we shall know better what we are living for. 
Your love for him afiects me very much, and makes me venture 
to confess my estimate of the boy, and to dwell on the particulars 
of his decline. 

Think of us as well and cheerful. Mrs. Martineau is sustained 
in a way which surprises me ; for with her, the sole object of care, 
for the days and nights of twelve weeks, is withdrawn. Yet 
her calmness often rebukes my agitation. The children, all, 
as our best hearts could desire. With love to S., whose sym- 
pathies I know have been with us, ever dearest PhiUp, 
Your truly afiectionate 

James Martineau. 

As the evening fell, the father read aloud to his 

wife and elder children passages from Miss Barrett's 

Drama of Exile. Did they hear afar off how 

' through the doors of oped ' the boy angel's voice 

' Floated on a minor fine 
Into the full chant divine ' ? 

Could they listen through their tears, 

' While the human in the minor 
Made the harmony diviner ' ? 

The author of the solemn hyirm ' A voice upon the 
midnight air ' might well find strength in the 

" ' ' Look on me ! 

As I shall be uplifted on a cross 
In darkness of ecUpse and anguish dread. 
So shall I lift up in my pierced hands 
Not into dark but light^not unto death 
But life, — beyond the reach of guilt and grief. 
The whole creation.' 

And the Christizin Stoic would gladly respond to 
the strenuous exhortation, — 

' Thence with constant prayers 
Fasten your souls so high, that constantly 


The smile of your heroic ci^eer may float 
Above all floods of earthly agony. 
Purification being the joy of pain.' 

Next Sunday the preacher was in his pulpit as 
usual. When the news of Dr. Carpenter's death in 
the Mediterranean had reached Bristol, five years 
before, he had written approvingly of the decision 
not to disnaiss the pupils from the family school : 
' A Christian's grief esteems it no luxury to abdicate 
duties to indulge in tears.' In that spirit he main- 
tained his work. 

Some time later the following lines were placed 

upon the stone which marked the grave : 

' O life, too fair ! Upon thy brow 
We saw the light — where thou art now. 
O death, too sad ! in thy deep shade 
All but our sorrow seem'd to fade : 
O Heaven, too rich ! not long detain 
Thine exiles from the sight again.' 


The burden of grief was heavy ;^ there were 
family difficulties such as will arise in a varied 
circle of powerful individualities ; and the minister 
could not escape the periods of depression which 
beset every faithful spirit who undertakes, however 
humbly, the prophetic office. He longed for more 
response to his high demands for congregational 
service ; and even thought it might be his duty to 
make way for a successor who should win his people 

1 Readers of the Endeavours, vol. ii., 1847, will notice several 
noble passages dealing with the sanctities of the home ; especially 
in • The Shadow of Death,' ' The Family in Heaven and Earth," 
and ' Great Hopes for Great Souls." In the latter, the poigjiant 
cry ' Oh God ! it is terrible to think what may be lost in one 
human life," probably issues out of this great sorrow. 

270 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH. viii 

to more effective labour. By and by the note 
changes ; and in October, when the autumn work 
is fully organised, and to the home-teaching, to 
lectures and classes (Sunday and week-day), is 
added the composition of an important article 
for the Prospective, he heis gathered his powers 
together, and his ' buoyancy ' fills the companion 
of his hfe with ' wonder and thankfulness.' A 
new prospect has sprung up : ' the chapel question,' 
reported Mrs. Martineau, ' is settled in the affirma- 
tive, and I think James has hopes therefrom for 
himself and his people, though there is much to 
intervene that may be difficult.' The ' chapel 
question ' was no other than the removal of the 
congregation to some more convenient religious 
home.^ Such plans always bring rude shocks to 
conservative affections ; and of these the members 
of Paradise Street had a large share. lUness fell 
on the preacher ere another month was out ; he 
dreaded lest he should be foiled in his working plans, 
and the expensive scheme for the education of his 
eldest son abroad should be frustrated ; he was 
moved for change into the large spare-room, and 
as he sat in the very chair and place that his lost 
darling had so lately occupied, the bereaved father's 
heart gave way. But in three weeks a fresh crisis 
arrives, and is met with a stem promptitude. He 

1 It had been broached in April, and the Hope St. site had 
been provisionally purchased by the Committee on their own 
personal responsibility. This was adopted by the congregation. 
Inquirer, Oct. 17, when Mr. Bolton, a warm personal friend of 
Mr. Martineau, expressed the hope that ' the removal might be 
the means of bringing into greater light the talents of that already 
celebrated gentleman.' 


has been told that the project of a new church 
has been attributed to his instigation, and springs 
from his ambition. Immediately a letter flies to 
the President of the congregation, bearing his resig- 
nation. ' It is my purpose to retire from my office, 
and probably from the ministry, at Midsummer 

Meanwhile the teacher's work went steadily on. 
Young men still came to early lectures on Mental 
Philosophy before breakfast, and wrote out after- 
wards the notes which they were not permitted to 
take during the hour. Some of the elder children 
joined the classes in the school of Miss Rachel Mar- 
tineau where her brother's instruction covered a 
wide range of subjects, including Latin, Mathematics, 
History, and Botany, as well as the New Testament.^ 
Shy and busy, without any particular taste for the 
society of 3'oung people, he sometimes seemed re- 
served and formidable. Yet even the girls fresh 
from home felt his kindness and patience ; they 
tried to write recollections of his sermons ; and 
soon came to regard him as the embodiment of 
everything both intellectual and holy. The witness 
of grief upon his face awoke their sympathy ; 
beneath his quiet self-control they learned to 
discern a sensitive and vulnerable nature ; while 
the new ideas which he opened to them roused 
their imaginations. Now it was the difference 
between induction and deduction ; now a discussion 
of compositions on the propriety of mathematical 

• Miss Julia Wedgwood here kindly permits me to use her 
recollections of 1846. 

272 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [cH. vm 

studies for women ; now a problem of conduct 
arising out of the Marian persecutions ; now, the 
significance of a law of nature. Anything of the 
nature of confession was promptly discouraged ; 
yet the interests which he quickened were so vivid, 
that even his apparent coldness was no bar to 
eager admiration and enthusiastic confidence. In 
the following passage the niece of Darwin links 
one of his lessons to her later thought.^ 

He referred to the sometimes slight differences which con- 
stituted species ; setting the primrose and the cowslip side by 
side, and forcibly suggesting the apparently natural origin of 
the peculiarities of each, and went on to ask how we were to 
account for affinities which bore the aspect of something that 
human intellect might account for. ' To that question,' he 
concluded, ' we can give no answer except the will of the Creator.' 
Those words are the only ones perfectly distinct to me, but he 
said much more, and to my recollection it is as if he had added 
— ' This is in fact little more than a confession that our present 
science stops here. It is a provisional state of mind, merely 
reasserting the conviction that the universe owes its origin to 
Divine will, and coupling it with the indication of a boundary 
line where second causes seem to fail us.' Of course he did not 
say exactly this to a class of school-girls ; perhaps he would 
not have said it if the audience and the subject had been suitable, 
but that is the description, as nearly as I can give it, of the effect 
on my mind of the few words I am sure of. Almost always 
when I think of the ' Origin of Species ' I remember the very 
pattern of the oil-cloth at the long table and him at its head, 
leaning forward with the earnest gaze that might have been bent 
on a set of learned and mature men instead of a few school-girls, 
and I hear the deep, rather hoUow voice that seemed, though 
perfectly distinct, not to bring all its sound from the lips, but 
as it were to express a thought as much as an utterance, and 
once more I catch the nuance of a latent surprise — so it seems to 
me — in the voice I still hear as of a speaker only just silent. 

In the autumn of 1846 a class of ladies was formed 
in Manchester for the study of logic, under the same 
teacher's guidance ; the class-work including essays 
which he himself would read aloud with corrections. 

1 Expositor, 6th ser., vol. vii, 1903, p. 28. 


It was the pioneer of later methods of University 
Extension teaching. Among the members were two 
sisters, afterwards distinguished, Susanna and 
Catherine Winkworth. From their family records 
comes the following extract, by Susanna's pen^ : — 

This course of lessons was not merely to us the most interesting 
and delightful of our occupations at the time, but formed a very 
important and beneficial era in the development of our intel- 
lectual and spiritual life. This was especially the case with 

Catherine Her early beliefs had been rudely shattered 

[through various influences to which she had been subjected at 
Dresden], and she was at this time much inclined to replace them 
by the worship of art and culture. Goethe was her chief instruc- 
tor and guide, and her philosophy was a chaos. Many times 
in later years she told me that it was to Mr. Martineau she owed 
her deliverance from this state of mind with all its dangers. 
His teaching laid down for her once for all the landmarks of 
mental and moral philosophy, which proved her guide through 
all the varied schools of speculation with which she came in 
contact in after life ; and she always revered him as the master 
and helper to whom she owed more perhaps than to any other 
human being ; since his teaching had fixed for her the foundations 
of faith. 

To public questions of national duty, especially 
those which, like education, bore any relation to 
religion, — Mr. Martineau was never indifferent. 
The Parliamentary session of 1847 ^^.s signalised by 
government proposals for extended aid to elementary 
schools which at once roused discussion throughout 
the country. Mr. Martineau immediately wrote 
to Mr. Thom, pointing out that the scheme ' practi- 
cally excludes aU our schools and all Catholic 
schools.'^ In April he spoke at a large and in- 

1 Life of Catherine Winkworth, privately printed, 1883, vol. i., 
p. 120. 

2 A deputation of Unitarian ministers and laymen, headed by 
the Rev. J. J. Tayler, had an interview with Lord Lansdown, 
and it was understood that the Unitarian schools would be 
recognised. The Liverpool congregations subsequently held a 

274 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [ch. vi 

fluential meeting of ministers and laymen from the 
Province of Lancashire and Cheshire held in Cross 
St. Chapel, Manchester. His position is not without 
significance even now. He would himself apparently 
have preferred a simply secular system of instruc- 
tion. But when he put himself in the position 
of the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, or the Calvinist, 
he did not wonder that a scheme of this comprehen- 
sive natiire was impracticable. In the system 
proposed by the Government he saw one great 
advantEige. Finding themselves precluded from 
erecting a purely secular system, they resolved to 
combine the best secular instruction with the 
prevailing systems of theology. The effect was 
to place existing theology in the same room with 
secular knowledge and truth ; and with the curious 
inability to understand the British genius for 
conservative compromise which sometimes marred 
his schemes, Mr. Martineau anticipated that theology 
would be compelled to awake from her slumbers, 
and the creeds of the Church, instead of d5ang of 
contempt, would exalt and purity themselves. 
Strongly averse from the Evangelical orthodoxy 
which marked the great Nonconformist bodies, 
he declared that though no friend to exclusive 
religious establishments, he would rather choose to 
increase the influence of a Church which was under 
the wholesome control of the State, and felt the 
restraining influence of the good sense of the country, 

meeting at Paradise St., and adopted a petition to the House of 
Lords for the admission of Roman Catholics to a participation 
in the education grant. Such was Mr. Martineau's loyalty to 
bis ' first and last true love of religious liberty.' 


than he would heighten the power of men who, 
with the profession of reUgious hberty constantly 
on their lips, did not understand its elementary 

The resignation of December, 1846, had been of 
course withdrawn ; and in September, 1847, Mr. 
Martineau apphed to his chapel committee for a 
year's leave of absence during the building of the 
new Hope Street Church. After the heavy labours 
of the last fifteen years he needed a period of with- 
drawal from the pulpit, which he proposed to devote 
especially to philosophical study.* ' I cannot be 
content,' he wrote to Newman, ' till I have made 
an effort on the spot to fathom the foreign philo- 
sophies, or obtain the means of doing so.' The 
plans and arrangements for this German residence, 
undertaken with the sanction of the College as well 
as of his congregation, filled the family with happy 
expectation.' At one time his New Testament 
interests promised to determine his place of sojourn. 

1 The reference was to a recent letter in the Daily News from 
Dr. Vaughan, with whom, some years later, he was engaged in 
controversy. Christian Reformer, 1847, p. 293 sqq. 

2 The second volume of the Endeavours had recently appeared. 
In forwarding a copy to Theodore Parker, he said : ' I cannot 
pay in kind my thanks for the great things you have sent me ; 
but such as I have I give thee. The volume will teach you nothing 
except what I am myself at heart, and that is not a lesson worth 
learning.' After apologising for reviewing him and Strauss 
in a single article (in the Westminster) — ' as well put the Mississippi 
and the Nile into a quart bottle ' — he adds, ' I find traces every- 
where of the widening influence of your book, which penetrates 
into strange quarters, and breaks through the most rigorous 
cordon of sect." Cp. below, chap. IX. 

3 Mrs. Martineau gave up attending her husband's lectures 
to ladies on Moral Philosophy, to take German lessons and 
write exercises. 

276 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [ch. vih 

By the year 1845 he had abandoned the apostolic 
authorship of the Fourth Gospel : to Mr. F. W. 
Newman, in an interesting exchange of letters 
over the second volume of the Endeavours, he had 
already expressed the doubts,^ which more than 
forty years later grew into emphatic conviction, 
that Jesus never claimed the Messianic character. 
The leader in these Gospel studies was Ferdinand 
Christian Baur, of Tiibingen, where Strauss also 
lectured ; and there, at one time, Mr. Martineau 
thought of settling. Finally, however, the scheme 
of a preliminary stay at Dresden was adopted 
with a move in the autumn to Berhn. Of this, 
two of the Winkworth sisters (Selina and Emily) 
give a pleasant glimpse, March 8, 1848, as Selina 
describes a call at Park Nook. The family were just 
sitting down to dinner (the teacher's engagements 
often attached the mid-day meal to unusual hours). 

So in we went ; Mr. Martineau was fetched, and we all sat down. 
We felt quite at our ease, Mr. Martineau talked politics, then 
about Dresden, and we made him laugh with telling him funny 
stories about it. After dinner Mrs. Martineau proposed to take 
us a walk, but before then we saw all over the house, which is 
delightfully contrived in every way, as well as very pretty — 
all Mr. Martineau's doing. He seems to have as great a genius 

for architecture and carpentering ^what a b»tbos — as for 

metaphysics I 2 

Politics, in fact, were of great concern just then ; 
the spectre of Revolution had arisen, and threatened 
to bar the way even to the harmless student of 
philosophy. A fortnight later, Mr. Martineau wrote 
to the Rev. G. Crabbe : — 

What astounding events have been crowded into the last month 

^Life, L 140. 
2 March 8, 1848 : Life of Catherine Winkworth, vol. i. p. 141. 


— a century compressed into each week. I feel my German plan 
stagger ; yet I think we shall keep it on its feet. I have great 
confidence in the good sense and stability of the German re- 
constmctians ; and rather expect a year of glorioas interest. 
Pear France, meanwhile, will have to work ont, I suppose, by 
the reductio ad miserum, the dreadful problems of communism 
and ochlocracy. ViiR our own dear Uttle island have the wisdom 
to look on and kam ? 

To Mr. Newman he communicated his fears that 
England was ' running full tilt into democracy,' 
but he added, May 19, ' We still mean to go to 
Germany, unless something more alarming happens.' 

On May 9 the foimdation-stone of the new church 
in Hope Street was laid. At the outset of his 
memorable address the preacher adverted to the 
parallel between the immediate outiook, and the 
period when the chapel in Paradise Street was b^un. 
Quoting Coleridge's description of Priestley, who 
was to have opened the chapel in September, 1791,^ 
he added, ' I see near me some venerable men, 
whose memory bears witness of that time.' These 
had seen many a change, beneath the law of Provi- 
dence, in the forms under which the same indestruc- 
tible ideas operate in our nature. ' It is time,' 
said the speaker emphatically, ' that this should 
be openly recognised as fact, and allowed for in our 
provisions for the future.' This was the first 
opportunity which had fallen in Mr. Martineau's 
way of giving effect to the principles which he had 
derived from his study of the Presb5^erianism of 
Baxter and his successors ; his declarations of 
personal conviction and of the unsectarian character 
of true Church-life defined the position which he 

1 The Birmingham riots of the preceding July led him to 
shape his course differently. 

278 PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [ch. vin 

was to maintain, amid much misunderstanding and 

criticism, till he had educated a generation of 

co-believers : — ^ 

As we possess not our own acquisitions only, but a heritage 
from predecessors ; as we build not for ourselves alone, but for 
our descendants ; as our Society runs through generations, 
constant indeed in their religion, but variable (may I say pro- 
gressive ?) in their theology ; we presume not to impress our own 
peculiarities on this Church. We own the partnership of other 
ages in the baptism and character of this place, and will not 
forfeit our affinity with the ancient and the unborn to gratify 
the egotism of a sect. Let it not be said that we want a refuge 
for vagueness of conviction, an excuse for cowardice of profession. 
We know what we beUeve ; we love what we believe ;" we plainly 
tell what we beUeve. I am a Unitarian ; you, who will meet 
here from week to week, are doubtless Unitarian too ; but the 
society of worshippers, of which we are only the living members, 
and the Church erected here, of which we shall be but transient 
tenants, these are not to be defined as Unitarian. To stamp them 
with such doctrinal name, would be to perform an act of posthu- 
mous expulsion against many noble dead whom it is an honour to 
revere ; and perhaps to provoke against ourselves, from a future 
age, the retribution of a like excommunication. 

The weeks ere his departure ran out quickly ; 
and his mood was naturally one of self-criticism 
as he reviewed the changes and tendencies of sixteen 
years. To his brethren at the Provincial Assembly 
on June 22 he expressed his fears : he saw religion 
becoming too exclusively a matter of interest to 
the middle classes ; there was some defect in their 
ministrations ; were their old institutions and 
modes of usefulness suited to the times ? he re- 
proached none, but wished to impress a deeper sense 
of duty on himself.^ At length the hour of leave- 
taking arrived. He had let his house to the Com- 
mander of the district, Sir WiUiam Warre, and 
ventured to ' rejoice at it, in spite of the grave 

1 Essays, iv. 439. * Christian Reformer, 1848, p. 445. 


looks of some of our ultra-peace-loving friends.'^ 
On July 16 he preached his last sermon in Paradise 
Street, ' Pause and Retrospect.'^ At the close of 
what was really the formative period of his whole 
ministry, his thoughts flowed into different moulds 
from those of his Ordination utterance in 1828, or even 
his early service in Liverpool. ' The voice of young 
experience which then addressed you, has learned, 
not without the discipline of sorrow and humilia- 
tion, to tell something of the tale of our humanity.' 
It was, in truth, a changed view of Man that he 
recorded ; man in whose inner nature slumbered 
the testimony to God, Perfection, ImmortaUty, 
which it was the preacher's task to wake to life. 
Here was the ultimate source and abode of religion. 
For there are infinities of beauty and sanctity 
as well as of space and time ; ' the Universe which is 
ever5rwhere and always, has infinity of one kind ; 
the free human soul, which may be fair and good, 
has infinity of the other.' This was the secret of 
his fresh estimate of Christianity. The records 
might be less perfect than he once supposed, and 
various elements of Hellenistic theory and Jewish 
misconception larger than he thought; but the 
harmony between the teachings of Christ and the 
moral intuitions of the mind made it apparent 
that in all human history he stood at the unap- 
proached summit, the mingling point of the real 
and the ideal.^ Here, then, was a religion of 

1 Letter to the Rev. C. Wicksteed, June 10, 1848. 
- Essays, iv. 426. 

3 In sending the sermon to the Rev. George Crabbe, he briefly- 
adverted to a difficulty which he was frequently to encounter. 

28o PREACHER AND TEACHER, 184O-1848 [CH. vili 

conscience, looking to God as the All-Holy, con- 
trasted with his earlier conception of God as universal 
Cause. One other note sounds for a brief moment, 
to enter hereafter into his teaching with richer 
harmonies :^ — ^All minds are ' of one race, variously 
partakers of one inspiration, melting at their upper 
margin — beyond the centre of their will, — into the 
all-comprehending Spirit, that holds them " as the 
sea her waves." ' 

The last farewells were said ;* as he made his 
adieux to Newman by letter, he shook off entangling 
cares — ' I had no idea how complicated one's life 
becomes after forty, till I had to wind up all its 
affairs for a year's absence.' On July 31st Emily 
Winkworth wrote gaily to Susanna : ' The Mar- 
tineaus sail from Hull to-day, carrying heaps of 
introductions to all the towns in Germany. He 
has a year's leave of absence, and is going to study 
all the philosophies at all the universities,' The 
' Annus Mirabilis ' had begun. 

' When you say that " if Christ was not infallible, Christianity 
itself is false," I am unable to perceive the legitimacy of the 
inference. As I do not conceive of Christianity as the cUsclosure 
of new objective truths to the understanding, I do not regard 
intellectual misapprehension in its author as aiiy disqualification 
for his divine office.' The question is argued at greater length 
in a letter to Mr. F. W. Newman after the publication of the 
second volume of the Endeavours. See the Life, i. 139. 

1 Compare the letter to Mary Carpenter already cited, p. 248. 

s ' Children who have been the saintly lustre of our homes,' 
were not forgotten in the preacher's parting words. 



In 1840 Manchester College was removed from 
York, and re-established in the city of its original 
foundation. The immediate occasion of the change; 
was the announcement, in April, 1838, that failing 
eyesight would prevent the distinguished scholar 
who presided over its classical studies, from continu- 
ing his work. The resignation of Mr. Kenrick 
precipitated a crisis which had for some time 
been foreseen. Mr. Martineau was placed on a 
sub-Committee for considering what course should 
be pursued. After more than a year's discussion, 
the Trustees resolved to bring back the College to 
Manchester, and replace it amid an important 
group of Congregations founded on its principles, 
and served by many of its own former students. 
A new Academic status was secured for it by con- 
nexion with the University of London, effected 
by Royal Warrant in February, 1840. At the same 
time the teaching staff was greatly enlarged. The 
Rev. J.J. Tayler, who had been one of the Secretaries 
of the College, was appointed Professor of Ecclesi- 
astical History : the Greek, Latin, and English 
studies were placed in the charge of Mr. Francis 


William Newman : and Mr. Martineau, who had 
been the colleague of Mr. Tayler in the secretarial 
work of 1839-40, became lecturer in Mental and 
Moral Philosophy, with the additional subject of 
Political Economy. It was the day of small things. 
The College sought, as before, to provide the means 
of imiversity learning in the midst of a great in- 
dustrial community.^ It stood for an ideal which, 
after sixty years, has been nobly realised by the 
expansion of Owens College into the Victoria 
University with a free faculty of Theology. 


The actual amount of teaching exacted of the 
lecturer on philosophy was at first not large : one 
afternoon a week sufficed. But he could take no 
new duty easily, and at once planned out wide 
schemes. In his inaugural lecture^ he announced 
a two years' course of study in ' Mental Philosophy, 
whose office it is to note and register, according to 
some natural order, all the phenomena of the mind ; 
to detect the occasions of their first appearance ; to 
analyse their composition ; to determine the laws 
of their succession ; to estimate the value and proper 
direction of the several faculties, as instruments 
for the discovery of truth, the invention of beauty, 

1 ' When first I became a Professor in this College,' said Dr. 
Martineau at the Centenary in 1886, 'I was but one out of nine 
at the monthly meetings of our Academic Board. " University 
learning " ought certainly not to be unattainable there ; but 
whether our work was nine-fold better done than that of our solitary 
fore-runner, Frankland of Rathmell, I greatly doubt.' 

2 October, 1840 ; Essays iv. 3. 


and the increase of happiness.' To this would in 
due course succeed Moral Philosophy, involving the 
development of the conception of duty, the deline- 
ation of the ideal of human character : Political 
Philosophy, dealing with the rights and duties of 
society ; and Political Economy which was con- 
cerned with the production and distribution of wealth. 
It was Mr. Martineau's habit to conceive his subjects 
on a vast scale, and he required an ample field for 
their treatment. Designs so extensive could only 
be executed by degrees : and his great courses 
passed in successive years through various stages 
of growth, while earlier labours were whoUy super- 
seded by the richer discussions of a later day. 
Save in his classes on logic, where he employed 
text-books, and broke again and again into conversa- 
tional discourse, he never availed himself of his 
felicitous power of oral exposition. Each subject 
must be treated with the utmost care, and presented 
with all the elaboration of his most finished style. 
The labours of preparation were severe, but they 
were undertaken with a certain buoyancy : in 
the College, he felt, his true life-work had begun.^ 

^ A notebook of this period, which contains a quantity of New 
Testament investigation into the narratives of the resurrection, 
the composition of the Fourth Gospel, etc., opens with a list of 
' Memoranda for reading during the vacation, 1841.' The works 
cited (by chapter or section) are grouped according to the divisions 
of a syllabus. Among the EnglSh authors are Bacon, Cudworth, 
Locke, and Berkeley, down to Beutham, James Mill, Whewell, and 
De Morgan. Scotland is represented by Hume, Reid, Stewart and 
Brown. The French names are Cousin and Prevost : the German, 
Kant and Hegel. The number of pages for each group is carefully 
estimated, including 960 in Greek from Aristotle. The total stands 
at the astounding figure of 8,620 1 How much of such a colossal pro- 
gramme could even his strenuous industry accomplish ? Certainly 


The philosophical positions, defined in these early 
courses, were presented in successive articles in the 
Prospective Review, to be described immediately. 
One or two backward glances at the abandoned 
systems of necessity and materialism may be offered 
here. In the centre of his new interpretation of 
the moral consciousness lay the doctrine of the 
Freedom of the Will. The 'reserves and misgivings' 
of his College days were justified at last ; and he 
felt that he had emerged into the light. It was 
doubtless with a recollection of his early discussions 
with his sister Harriet that he said in his inaugural 
lecture, 1840 : 

A deep curiosity respecting the great problem of Free-will 
is usually, I believe, the first symptom of speculative activity of 
intellect ; a confident solution of it, the first triumphant enter- 
prise ; a relapse into the consciousness of its mystery, the first 

sign of a more comprehensive wisdom It is probable, 

that, in the secret history of every noble and inquisitive mind, 
there is a passage darkened by this conception of Necessity ; 
and it is certain, that, in the open conflict of debate, there is no 
question that has so long served to train and sharpen the weapons 
of dialectic skill. 

it could not be conducted on the method suggested to a student 
at the College, the beloved Travers Madge, in a letter written in 
July of the same vacation. ' You have found, I doubt not, 
by experience already, that much less is gained by mere readinz 
of large extent, than by stern study of a moderate portion of any 
subject. Let me recommend a careful written analysis of 
everything you may read, not made from the book at the time, 
but produced out of your own mind afterwards ; and an exact 
comparison, by a subsequent review, of the different opinions 
of your authors on subjects that present a variance. This seems 
to me the true discipline of forming a vigorous intellect, though 
the time it takes necessarily limits the quantity of reading 
that can be achieved. But in modem study a vast deal of lazy 
reading might be well exchanged for a little active reflection 
and true mental labour. The neglect of this, or the incapacity 
for it, appears to me to be the chief cause of the confusion and 
perplexity of which men complain in relation to metaphysical 


The contrast between the old faith and the new 
lies in the background of the following letter to the 
Rev. George Crabbe, who had apparently submitted 
to him a manuscript delineating a Theism based on 
a kind of religious materialism, where the Divine 
Mind was presented as an eternal function of an 
eternal matter. 

Liverpool, Dec. 27.* 

t .... I doubt not you will anticipate my hearty concurrence 
in your reliance on the Moral Evidences in preference to the 
simply natural or metaphysical. And of those moral evidences 
I prize the indications in our individual Mental Constitution, 
the promissory intimations of Reason and Conscience and 
Aspiration, far more than the hints which may be drawn from 
the imperfect structure of our Social Humanity. That our 
very highest faculties should play us false, and carry in their 
essence deceptive postulates, is indeed (as you most justly 
insist) entirely incredible. Here I think is the stronghold of 
your argument, from which neither force nor subtlety of reason 
can dLslodge you. 

Even if in our own persons we had no deep religious wants 
and instincts, still we could not fail to be struck by the fact 
that all the noblest men in history, the men who have endeared 
themselves to human reverence by moral greatness and self- 
sacrifice, have been possessed by intense reUgious Faith. And 
for my own part, I so far retain a docility to authority above me, 
that this evident dependence of the higher minds upon a Highest 
of all would suffice to lay all doubts to rest, and make me 
willing to beUeve with the wise, and trust the ground which alone 
has ever sustained the good. 

On the external phenomena of the world it is perhaps more 
difficult to rest a satisfactory argument. The mixed appearances 
which indicate to us an imperfect and inchoate moral government 
awaiting future completion may evidently be read both ways — 
as signs of moral order or of moral confusion — according as you 
take the occasional occurrence of Retribution, or its occasional 
failure, to be the essence of the system. 

Were it not for the interpreting spirit of our own inner moral 
nature, helping us to read the phenomena aright, I do not think 
that a mere inductive process, intellectuaUy applied to the 
outer facts, would enable us to establish satisfactorily the 
ascendency (and yet the imperfection) of a moral Rule over human 
affairs. Once sure of a Moral Government, you may obtain, in 

1 The year is not given. 


the instances of its failure here, indications of a sequel in 
the hereafter. But unless you are first sure, the examples of 
failure are as likely to throw you back into doubts about Theism, 
as forward into beUef of a Future Life. 

This assurance is given, I think, by way of se//-knowledge, 
and is included in the contents of our moral consciousness. 
This therefore I feel constrained to put in the prior place to 
all external evidence. 

Is there not a question whether your Axiom that ' the cause of 
Mind must be Mind ' is reconcilable with your position that 
Mind is the result of Organisation, and the mere function of 
Matter in the organised state ? a position which you consistently 
allow to stand in the case of God himself. Must not Organ be 
prior to Function, and Matter to its own organisation ? Either 
Mind is the product and last refinement of Material Forces, 
or Material forces are the expression of Rational Mind. Between 
these two modes of conception and orders of derivation there 
can be (as it seems to me) no third doctrine, unless indeed yon 
stop your materialism short of the Divine Mind, and split the 
difference with the ImmateriaUst ; allowing his doctrine to hold 
with respect to God, and your own to be limited to Man. And 
this sort of compromise is logically unsatisfactory ; because 
if you once allow the possibility and the fact of a First Mind 
(Spirit), causally prior to all material organism, the conception 
will be pressed upon you in proof that there, at least, may be 
secondary minds of similar type : and all the arguments which 
the Materialist draws from the inconceivability of Mind without 
Matter fall to the ground. I think it is no accident or prejudice, 
but an inherent logical necessity, which connects together 
MateriaUsm and Atheism ; though in many minds they never 
find each other out ; and pious men, like Dr. Priestley, Uve 
and die Materialists and Christians too. 

Here, then, my dear sir, you see our chief point of divergence 
from each other. You have put clearly and forcibly the facts, 
as to the connexion of body and mind, on which the Materialist 
rests his conclusion. But connexion, however invariable, between 
two things, proves nothing as to the causal priority of the one to 
the other ; and if anyone diose to maintain that Matter is wielded 
by Spirit, instead of organising itself into Spirit, the facts will 
read off just as well. 

The only other point on which I will trouble you with my 
queries is — ^Whether it is necessary for the Theist's purpose to 
prove a Beginning of things. For my own part, I do not think 
we can do it, and I do not think we need do it. All phenomena 
require a cause, and we know, and can at bottom conceive, 
no causality but Mind. This seems to me the natural process 
of our thought, bearing the most rigid philosophical scrutiny ; 
and the perpetual stream of phenomena, without beginning or end 
of the series, affords no embarrassment to this simple reasoning. 


The subjects assigned to Mr. Martineau in the 
distribution of the College work included Political 
Economy. The brother of Harriet Martineau had 
been introduced to this study in his youth. Political 
Philosophy and Social Economy had formed part 
of his course at York ; his residence in Dublin had 
brought various social problems before him in their 
most concrete form ; Adam Smith was among the 
writers whom he had early mastered, and for whom 
he felt great admiration. His arrangement followed 
the customary heads of Production, Exchange, 
and Partition ; and, with Ricardo as his guide, 
he treated the subject by the deductive method. 
That his grasp of the principles of his science, as 
then understood, was thorough, and his exposition 
clear, no reader of his philosophical works will doubt. 
The course was felt to be so valuable that it was given 
by request to a more general audience in the large 
room at Cross Street Chapel, and this repetition 
extended Mr. Martineau's influence over an impor- 
tant group of young men. Of his combination of 
economic rules with wider principles of political 
justice, a noble instance was presented in his sermon 
on the Irish Famine, January 31, 1847, where 
personal knowledge of the conditions added force 
to his statement.^ Deep was his wrath against 
English misgovemment ; which had left the land- 
lord to rule imder semblance of law, instead of 
serving the realities of justice. His views on the 
ultimate basis of the system of private property in 
land appear in the following passage.* 

i.The collection amounted to £$0$ (Mrs. Martineau to her 
sister, Mrs. Bache, Feb. 6, 1847). ^Essays, iv. 416. 


A more conspicuous, but not more real, cause of the permanent 
social condition of the sister island, is to be found in the criminal 
neglect of their obligations by the proprietors of the soil : — a 
neglect so serious in its aggregate results, that, were it not for 
the long indifference and connivance allowed to it by the govern- 
ment, it might be held sufficient to weaken all further title to 
forbearance. It is a principle of natural justice, and of English 
constitutional usage, that there can be no absolute private 
property in land : that the State simply administers its posses- 
sions by the hands of private individuals, conceding to them 
privileges of use, alienation and bequest on condition of certain 
services rendered back ;— establishing them in specified rights 
over it, as against others, but never as against itself. Chattel 
property and mere money in the purse have been considered 
as the characteristic of the Jew and the Alien, about the manage- 
ment of which no public question need be asked ; while real 
estate is the citizen's trust, over which his country keeps a watch, 
and justice herself stands ready with the voice of approbation 
or of anger. Its owners are virtually officers of the Commonwealth, 
entrusted with the gravest elements of its well being, and expected 
to perform certain social obligations inseparable from their 
position. They are in fact the natural lords and rulers of their 
neighbourhood, morally responsible for its good order, its wise 
economy, and the essential equity of prevalent relations among 
its people. It is only on these understood conditions, that 
society can undertake to protect hereditary estate ; and of all 
these conditions the very first in order undoubtedly is, that the 
land sAa// support its people : that the cultivator shall live, 
before the owner may gather ; that no rent can be touched, 
till labour has been fed.i- 

By temperament and sympathy Mr. Martineau 
was an aristocrat of the Platonic type, though birth 
and education had made him a Whig. Reverence 
for the best was the only air in which he could breathe. 
A constant student of the Dialogues^ — a study which 
he maintained to the end of his life, keeping a second 
copy in his Scotch home^ — ^he conceived the State 

* These positions were denounced by a correspondent of the 
Inquirer as ' dubious, fallacious, and anarchical,' March 6, 1847. 

2 A notebook contains a number of translations and abstracts. 

8 The writer once had occasion to caU upon him on a Sunday 
morning after his retirement from the ministry. He was pre- 
paring himself for participation in public worship by communion 
with his favourite author. 


as an organised expression of Justice, and dreaded 
the approaches of democracy. Neither the early- 
enthusiasms of ' Locksley Hall ' nor the pessimism 
of its sequel ' Sixty Years after,' commended them- 
selves to him. Always a close observer of contem- 
porary politics, he dreaded the rise of Chartism, 
from which he apprehended great dangers to the 
national Finance. As he watched the movements 
of continental revolution in the spring of 1848, 
he tried to work out a scheme of franchise for home 
use, and proposed to Prof. Newman to ' give every 
man a vote as a man,' with additional votes and 
additional taxation for ' every proprietary man.' 
It was a definite indication of a growing conservatism 
which his friends did not always know how to inter- 
pret. The element of the unexpected in his judg- 
ments often took them by surprise. 


Four years' labour at Manchester New CoUege 
gave the lecturer on philosophy a large command 
of fresh materials, and the strain of constant pre- 
paration was partially relaxed. The sense of rapidly 
growing power demanded a wider scope ; and it 
thus became possible for Mr. Martineau to join in 
a literary enterprise which sprang out of the periodical 
edited by Mr. Thom. The Christian Teacher was 
expanded into the Prospective Review, under the 
joint editorship of four friends, Mr. Thom, Mr. 
Martineau, Mr. Tayler, and Mr. Wicksteed, and the 
first number appeared in February, 1845. Its name, 


which drew down some criticism,^ was explained 
by its motto, from St. Bernard, ' Respice, Aspice, 
Prospice ' ; and its avowed object was to provide 
£in organ for progressive interpretations of Christ- 
ianity, and save them from being stifled by the 
sectarianism of a past generation. To this Review 
Mr. Martineau contributed some of the most brilliant 
of his essays, beginning with one on Dr. Arnold 
in the opening nmnber : and here the main lines of 
his philosophy were definitely laid down. His range 
was wide, embracing both philosophy and theology, 
and covering also questions of the practical applica- 
tion of politics and religion, as in the article on 
' Church and State ' in May, 1845.* But his method 
of production was slow. The labour of composition 

1 The Inquirer denounced it as ' Hibernian,' and frequently 
gibed at the articles. The criticism to which Mr. Martineau 
was subjected by those who could neither understand his philo- 
sophy, nor realise his spiritual greatness, is a painful chapter 
in denominational history. A reviewer of an English translation 
of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in the Inquirer for Feb. 22, 
1845, avowed bis total incapacity to comprehend it, and con- 
fidently asked ' What light has any German writer thrown upon 
the Analysis of the Human Mind ? The answer must be. None.' 
It is hardly necessary to add that Kant was set aside in favour 
of Hartley and James Mill. The philosophy of the Prospective, 
therefore, belonged to ' the exploded errors of darker times,' 
and the disciples of Priestley and Belsham were summoned 
' to exert themselves in exposing prevalent delusions,' May 10. 
A few months later the author of the sermon on The Bible and 
the Child ' holds some opinions which are extremely repulsive (!) 
to the members of the denomination with which he is connected.' 
To the charge of ' false philosophy ' was added that of ' robbing 
Christ ot his authority,'^ by the Rev. George Armstrong, in a 
sermon on ' Right Opinion the Foundation of Right Action,' 
April, 1846. This drew a brief reply from Mr. Martineau himself 
in No. vii. of the Prospective for flie same j-ear, p. 440. 

* It was of course an additional offence against the prevalent 
type of Unitarian Nonconformity, that in this article he declared 
that be had no theoretical objection to an Established Church. 

§ ii] THE Prospective Review 291 

was always painful, for the close-knit thoughts 
were the fruit of long concentration ; when once the 
imagination was kindled, metaphor and epigram 
flowed rapidly enough : the balanced phrase, the 
ornate style, belonged to the simplest note : but 
though his intellect moved swiftly, his love of artistic 
order demanded time for arrangement and careful 
articulation ; and the essay involved a strain 
hardly less severe, and much more prolonged, 
than the sermon. To F. W. Newman he remarked 
— ' Your promptitude in these matters astonishes 
me. How you could throw off a paper so clear and 
able on the most perplexing of subjects in a time 
so short, I cannot imagine.' Of his own difficulty 
in writing on a limited scale, he makes confession 
in a note to Mr. Wicksteed, July 17, 1845. 

I am delighted that you review Miss Barrett, — the truest 
poet of the advancing age ; only, as may always be expected 
of a genuine woman, not dramatic : so much the more wisely 
has she given a half Grecian form to her dramatic attempts, 
allowing everjrwhere the influence and even predominance of 
the lyric spirit.* 

I am revelling in the thought of sitting this time in my critic's 
chair, and reviewing my co-reviewers, without a particle of 
personal shame in taking up the Number. By my abstinence, 
you will be able to reduce the Printer's bill within reasonable 
limits : and in truth, whenever you want to economise, you 
must send me notice of silence. I cannot work by halves, or 
observe the Aristotelian rule of jj.rjSh' ayav. 

A httle later, to the same correspondent, July 
13, 1846 : 

For myself, having had no repose and refreshment I am without 
spirit for anything : and the prospect of having to lift the lumber- 
ing Master of Trinity over all the gaps in his logic fills me with 

1 His interest in Miss Barrett's work may be inferred from the 
use which he made of her Drama of Exile, published a few months 
after the above criticism was written. See chap. VTII. p. 268. 


unutterable despair. It is impossible to leap under such a load, 
to crawl upon aU fours is as much as I can hope. 

Early in 1845 Dr. Whewell had published a com- 
prehensive work, entitled The Elements of Morality, 
including Polity. The criticism of this treatise in 
the Prospective for November, in the same year, 
enabled Mr. Martineau to expound for the first time 
in pubUc his views of the action of conscience, 
and the nature of right and wrong. In a series of 
Lectures on Systematic Morality, delivered in Lent 
term, 1846, the Master of Trinity endeavoured to 
combat his reviewer's objections ; and this volume 
called forth a second article in the Prospective for 
August, to which Mr. Martineau referred, in the 
letter just quoted.^ These articles, with the essay 
on Channing two years later,^ enable us to sketch 
the form which his ethical teaching had then assumed. 
It was from this basis that the whole fabric of his 
thought was reconstructed ; here were involved the 
fundamental conceptions which supported his 
Theistic faith ; and any attempt to expound, how- 
ever briefly, the main ideas of his philosophy, must 
start from the moral experience in which they were 
so deeply rooted. 

It was characteristic of Mr. Martineau's mind 
to hold any conviction with a kind of impassioned 
energy. This did not prevent him from changing 
his convictions ; but it gave extraordinary force 
to the reaction against discarded views. Once 
persuaded that the function of Christ was not that 

^Essays, iii. 337 and 377. 

^Prospective, August, 1848, and Westminster, January, 1849; 
Essays, i. 81. 


of a heaven-accredited messenger of truth, but of a 
personal revealer of the Divine character, he is 
willing to see the Sermon on the Mount sink into 
oblivion with the conversations of Socrates.^ And 
in the same way, once assured of the independence 
of his own personality, and he is ready, alone, to 
confront the world and God. For beauties of order, 
harmonies of arrangement, evidences of design, 
in the external scene, he will care no more : the 
sublime fact of his freedom, controlled by yet an- 
other and sublimer, obligation, fills for him the 
central place in thought. These were ultimate 
realities to be recognised in consciousness, and then 
to be pondered tiU they disclosed all the manifold 
secrets locked within them. Between the succes- 
sions and laws of the outward world, and the swift 
courses of ideas and emotions in the spirit within, 
he admitted no true parallel. They could not be 
reduced beneath a common government, or brought 
under any uniformity of causation. The sentiment 
of duty was irresolvable into relative measures of 
pleasure or pain ; it admitted of no derivation from 
intellectual or legal, from sympathetic or aesthetic, 
values. With him, as with Channing, ' that man 
is endowed with knowledge of the right, and with 
power to realise it, was the fundamental axiom 
in his Science of human nature.'^ 

As this knowledge and power are the inmost 
treasures of our personality, their existence cannot 
be proved by anything more certain. They are 
intuitively discerned ; they cannot be scientifically 

1 Ante. p. 181. 2 ' Memoir of Channing,' Essays, i. iii. 


demonstrated. Proof of them, if proof is demanded, 
must be found in the inadequacy of any other 
explanation. On this proof Mr. Martineau was, 
at a later day, to bestow much thought and care. 
At this stage he is content to reiterate the essential 
facts, and invest them with that rich poetic glow, 
which constituted, for a mind like his, the true 
medium of vision. Here are mysteries to which the 
language and law of all ages bear testimony ; they 
cannot be exhibited to sense ; they csin only be 
represented to the imagination. But they bear 
in their midst sublime consequences. For the soul 
that has once recognised its true character, knows 
that it is entrusted with responsible power. It 
is itself an agent ; it can produce events by its own 
decisions ; it is a fountain of energy ; there dwells 
in it the independence of an originating cause. 
To awaken this consciousness is the function of the 
teacher ; to exhibit aU its contents, and trace their 
far-reaching issues, is the work of philosophy. 
The right interpretation of Man carries with it the 
right understanding of the world and God. 

What, then, is the scope of this sovereignty of 
the human spirit ? Upon what does the mind 
exercise its power ? The answer is immediate, — 
on the whole range of its propensities, desires, 
affections, within. Among these sits conscience 
enthroned ; and her task is to judge their claims 
and decide their merits, to pronounce some better, 
and others worse. The mode in which Mr. Martineau 
conceived this process, formed perhaps his most 
original contribution at this stage to ethical doctrine. 

The phenomena which we csill moral, must all 


exhibit some essential characteristic. That they are 
voluntary, and are thus distinguished from all 
acts done under constraint, is universally admitted. 
The movement of the piston-rod in a steam-engine 
is mechanical, not moral. But though this char- 
acter suf&ces to separate them from the Mwmoral, 
it does not mark them off from the immoral. Will 
you place this in man's susceptibility to happiness ? 
He shares that with the brutes ; the dog enjoys or 
suffers ; he obeys the master who wields the pleasures 
of hope or the terrors of fear ; futile is the effort to 
account for what is special to man by a little extra 
manipulation of what he shares with the ape.'^ 
Do you, with JoufEroy, fix on the ' idea of order ' ? 
You doubtless bring moral phenomena within the 
scope of events according to some law : but order 
also rules within the hive : and law wings the flight 
of the migratory bird. If, with Price, you assimilate 
the knowledge of right and wrong to that of number, 
you give it the character of intellectual intuition, 
and bring it into the field of truth ; if, with Shaftes- 
bury, you dwell on the nobility of a fine character, 
you convert it into an aesthetic perception. Or 
if, with Butler, you suppose that the moral sense 
belongs to the active principles of human nature, 
and has goodness for its appropriate object, as 
hunger demands food, or admiration calls for beauty, 
you isolate moral good as a specific quality inherent 
in actions, as whiteness in snow, or sweetness in 
fruit : and its presence or absence would be separ- 

1 The sharp line between animals and man, so characteristic 
o£ Dr. Martineau's later philosophy, is already drawn. Essays, 
iii. 345- 


atdy discerned in each important operation of the 
will. Why, in this case, should men's judgments 
differ through so wide a range ?^ Butler was right 
in insisting on the preferential character of all 
moral judgments, but wrong in his explajiation of 
its nature. Its essence does not he in a choice 
which elevates a uniform moral good over many 
and various kinds of natural good. Virtue is not 
preferred to resentment or ambition, as though it 
were an independent object of pursuit. Thirst, 
anger, pity, love, have each their own objects : 
and Butler placed conscience above all, with right- 
eousness as its appropriate aim. But Mr. Martineau 
declared that after the most dihgent search he 
could not find within himself this autocratic faculty, 
having its own private and paramotmt end. He 
was never conscious of acting save from some 
' particular desire.' Try as he might, he could not 
sweep these from his mind, for conscience to enter 
with its plea for ' the good.' 

But we remember a boy who once went on a day's excursion 
among the lakes and hills, provided with an excellent luncheon, 
calculated for a mountain appetite. He had gone an hour or 
two beyond a reasonable time, and just unpacked his store beside 
a stream, when a little girl approached, half-leading, half-dragging 
an old man evidently collapsing from exhaustion. They had 
attempted a short cut over the ridge the day before, lost their 
way, and spent the night and noon without food or shelter on 
the hills. The boy divided the contents of his basket between 
them. ; the ' particular passion,' pity, getting the better of the 
' particular appetite,' hanger, and making itself felt as the 
higher claim.* 

1 This difficulty was stated in the early ' Outline of Lectures 
on Moral Philosophy ' cited in chap. VI. p. 169, and was regarded 
as a conclusive argument against Butler's interpretation. 

2 ' Whewell's Elements of MoraUty,' Essays, iii. 349. 


In such reminiscence did the ethical philosopher 
discover the clue he sought. The nature of pre- 
ferential judgment was revealed. It did not consist 
in the erection of an abstract right over the natural 
desire for food ; its secret was unveiled in the 
perception that the exercise of pity was intrinsically 
worthier than the gratification of boyish appetite. 
Set the two side by side, and the recognition of 
the nobler is immediate. In every ethical judg- 
ment such a preference is implied. ■ There is always 
an alternative within the mind ; and it is on the 
terms of this alternative that conscience makes its 
award. It does not caU up the springs of action 
separately before its tribunal, to dismiss them with 
the labels ' this is right ' and ' that is wrong.' It 
secretly enquires what is the competing principle, 
and its decision is always relative, ' this is better,' 
' that is worse.' In other words, the impulses within 
us are not all of the same dignity. They vary in 
moral value, and conscience is the power that 
distinguishes these values, and assigns to them 
their respective claims. For Butler's scheme of 
man's moral constitution, presented under the image 
of an absolute monarchy over equal subjects, 
Martineau proposed to substitute ' a natural aristo- 
cracy or complete system of ranks, among our 
principles of conduct, on observance of which 
depends the worth and order of our life.'^ And 
the definition of moral good followed in these terms : 
' Every action is right, which, in the presence of a 
lower principle, follows a higher ; every action is 

1 Essays, iii. 350. 


wrong which, in the presence of a higher principle, 
follows a lower.'^ 

Here was a new and fruitful conception. To trace 
its fuU issues was to be the work of many years :* 
to guard it against assault from opposite philosophies, 
and above all from being overwhelmed by the 
doctrines of heredity and evolution, which the next 
generation was to lift into new authority, became 
one of the main objects of the teacher's life. Two 
or three of its immediate consequences may be here 
briefly set forth. 

The conception of human nature thus presented, 
was formed in the face of the prevailing Evangelical 
dogma of total depravity. In vigorous opposition 
to this wholesale condemnation of every energy, 
as already enfeebled and worthless, Mr. Martineau 
affirmed that to every spring of action, having its 
own place in the scale, corresponded some object 
which was naturally good. This was only another 
way of sa5nng that the several elements and powers 
within have no intrinsic moral quality of their own. 

1 Essays, iii. 352. A hint is here added, to be elaborated in 
subsequent years : what it the same principle can be carried 
out in different ways ? Shall a millionaire devote his fortune, 
with the desire of contributing to the public good, by endowing 
almshouses, founding free hbraries, or creating a vast trust for 
imperial ends ? The question must be decided not on ethical 
grounds, but on prudential. Expenditure is determined into 
the channel where the donor sees most dear advantage. Beside 
the canon of motives place is thus found for a canon of con 

2 On Feb. 3, 1847, one of his students, Richard Holt Hutton, 
wrote to him from Heidelberg, appealing to him to draw up a 
graduated table of the springs of action. This was at last added 
to the ethical course : and in a much expanded form occupies 
an important part of vol. iL of the Types of Ethical Theory. 
Mr. Hutton became one of Dr. Martineau's most valued frienck. 


Ethical values only come on the scene when two 
springs of action can be compared. In differences 
of original endowment there might be grounds for 
pity or admiration ; but the nature which was 
fitted with a stock of violent passions, did not 
deserve moral blame because of the warring impulses 
within, any more than a tiger because it was blood- 
thirsty. Guilt enters only where the will fails to 
restrain, and suffers the pent-up forces to burst 
forth on an unrestricted way. Many and severe 
were the criticisms passed by the theologian on the 
EvangeUcal scheme : and they all had their root 
in revulsion against its misinterpretation of the 
prime facts of human character. The exhibition of 
man as helpless and impotent wounded him to the 
core ; not only did it reject all discrimination of 
excellence ; it denied what he regarded as the most 
essential fact, the presence within man of an element 
of personal revelation through the presence of the 
Most High. The CathoUc psychology, on the other 
hand, with its recognition of the reality of the 
conscience and the will, engaged at once his interest 
and sympathy. 

Once more, the nature of the judgments of con- 
science on the alternatives submitted to it, was irre- 
solvable into any other quality. Differences of 
worth were ultimate. They constitute what we 
mean by good and evil, and cannot be traced back 
to any other source. They were not due to the 
reason, for they had not the character of truth : 
they did not issue out of feeling, for they were 
not founded on experience of pleasure and pain : 
they followed another order than that of proportion 


and beauty, for while these perceptions kindled 
our admiration, the recognition of duty at once 
involved a claim to our obedience. These deliver- 
ances belonged, in consequence, to an element 
within the soul that might be called into action by 
the operations of our social hfe, but was no product 
of outward circumstance. It was in man, yet not 
of him. In yielding allegiance to it, he recognises 
it as transcending the scale of his own being. It is 
universal, and all language attests its vaUdity. It 
has authority over him ; and only that can demand 
his reverence which speaks to him from above. 
Here, then, is a sanctuary in every mind, where the 
Infinite Spirit condescends to dwell. Conscience is his 
revealer ; through its activity do we know the Only 
Holy, who for ever makes the good the sole object 
of his choice and love. On man God has conferred 
the august privilege of sharing in this choice. Within 
the limitations of our humanity, he opens to us 
access to the infinite and eternal. He has so framed 
our nature that it can respond to his call. Existence 
is so organised that it presents us perpetual oppor- 
timities for exercising the spiritual perceptions 
through which he offers us the fellowship of a diviner 
life : and we are so organised that we have the 
power to realise or to neglect the suggestions which 
the heavenly Teacher is ever whispering.^ On this 
side the philosophic theologian moved away from 
his Catholic friends, whose theories of sacramental 
grace affronted his spirituality. Like his colleague, 
Francis W. Newman, he was essentially EvangeUcal 

1 ' Memoir of Cbanning,' Essays, i. 112. 


at heart. In his doctrine of the communion of spirit 
between God and man, he could admit no other 
medium than that of Mind acting directly upon mind. 
The relation between them was immediate. 

In this view, finally, the legal conception of 
morality, as dependent on the divine will, could 
lave no place.'^ To the jurist, obUgation begins 
and ends with positive law : ' nothing is right, 
until it can get enacted.' Against this revival 
of the doctrine of ' sovereignty,' the lecturer on 
ethics entered an emphatic protest. It made right 
subordinate to force ; and would justify men in 
serving Satan, were he only strong enough to 
substantiate his rule. To affirm that moral distinc- 
tions have their origin in a revealed law, which might, 
had God so chosen, have assumed quite different 
forms, is to make them only the births of time, 
and strip them of their eternal dignity. They are 
no better than the by-laws of a club, worthy of 
social respect, but destitute of intrinsic authority. 
If they only represent the fiat of God, they may be 
products of his volition, but they are not inherent 
in his being. ' Say that he caused them, and you 
deny that he followed them. Deduce justice from 
his will, and his will ceases to be just.' Vast and 
difficult are the problems thus indicated ; not yet 
was the teacher prepared with a metaphysic which 
could satisfactorily grapple with them. If Gkid 
must be presented to faith, not as originating, but 
as recognising (and in some sense obeying), the moral 
distinctions which are the basis of our love and 

1 ' Whewell's Elements of Morality,' Esiays, iii. 366. 


worship, are there not ' ideeis ' (to use the Platonic 
term) of the good and pure which are in some way 
independent even of him ? They are involved in 
his nature, was the answer, but do not control his 
choice, and the seeming strange result is implied 
that God could have been the devil, had he willed. 
On these deep ontological themes, after his German 
residence, he will speak with clearer tones. 


In drawing a contrast between Channing and 
Priestley,^ Mr. Martineau remarked that neither 
succeeded in bridging over the chasm between the 
Causal and the Moral God. Priestley, indeed, 
preserved the semblance of consistency by merging 
human nature altogether in the divine, and reducing 
the infinite play of our thought and feeling into a 
form of the heavenly will, as direct as the volition 
which keeps the planets spinning round the sun. 
Charming did not resolve one class of phenomena 
into another wholly unlike them ; but his excursions 
into the scenes of the physical world only suppHed 
him with occasions for devout sentiment, instead of 
harmonising the philosophy of nature with that 
of man. To effect this was the aim of another 
American writer, Theodore Parker, whose Discourse 
of Religion secured Mr. Martineau's ardent though 
not undiscriminating admiration,^ and formed the 

1 Essays, i. 119. 

2 To this he adverted a few years later in a letter to F. W. 
Newman, when he is abont to read his friend's book on The 
Soul (Sept. 24, 1849). ' I suppose it agrees with the experience 
of every teachable man, that during bis life some three or four 


subject of a remarkable article in the Prospective 
for February, 1846. From that essay, and another 
in November of the same year on Morell's History 
of Modern Philosophy, the principal elements of 
his theistic philosophy, prior to his residence in 
Germany, may be gathered. 

For the dialectic methods of the Continental 
thinkers Mr. Martineau had not then overcome a 
certain mistrust and dislike. ' The Ontological 
scheme of thought,' he declared,^ ' is so remote 
from all our intellectual habits, that no re-casting 
which may be given to it for purposes of exposition, 
can adapt it to our psychological methods of reflec- 
tion ; that nothing short of a long-continued 
discipline, as severe as that by which a peasant boy 
might be brought to read La Place, would sufi&ce to 
open, for the educated Englishman, an access to 
the schools of Konigsberg and Berlin.' He makes 
no attempt, therefore, to guard his doctrine by any 
preliminary discussion of the scope and limits of 
human knowledge, such as will afterwards call forth 
a criticism of Kant in the opening of his Stiidy of 
Religion ; Kant, Hegel, Fichte, are for most of his 
readers only names ; he is content to adhere to the 
process of enquiry which he has already followed 
in the field of Ethics, and ask what is the testimony 
of experience ? 

bookK appear, so impressive and speaking in reference to his 
peculiar affections and wants, as to constitute one of the great 
powers of his being, and visibly to make him what he becomes 
before he dies. When I was young, Channing worked upon me 
thus ; more recently, Parker ; and I know, from the whole char- 
acter of your mind, that you will now take the ascendant place.' 

* Prospective Review. 1846, p. 583. 


The questions which philosophy undertakes to 
answer with respect to Nature, are of this kind : 
What do we know of the outward world, and how 
do we know it ? The answer was direct and emphatic 
— ' The act of Perception gives us simultaneous 
knowledge of a subject and an object, with perfect 
equipoise of reason for afl&rming the reality of the 
one and of the other.' ^ For such an act, however, 
the proper conditions must be present. The oyster, 
lying beneath the Indian wave, may be susceptible 
of feeling changes of temperature, or the stimulus 
of food. It may receive sensations ; it cannot be 
supposed to perceive the difference between itself 
and its environment. Perception is not the same 
as reception : it involves something more than 
passive consciousness. But once more, imagine a 
being free to move in all directions and at any speed, 
encountering no obstruction in the encompassing 
void, and this spontaneous activity will no more 
beget perception than the oyster's rest on the sea- 
bed. Not till some obstacle opposes, will the needful 
concurrence of active and passive consciousness 
arise. Once let resistance be offered, and effort 
evoked to overcome it, and the act of perception ; 
takes place. In this collision two pairs of 
opposites are at once revealed. The / and the not 
I, subject and object, fall into s^ace-relations, as 
here and there, and into caMse-relations, producing the 
distinction of personal causation and extra-personal 
causation. In immediate knowledge, therefore, two 
great ideas are at once given, space, and cause : 

1 ' Morell's History of Modem Philosophy/ Prospective 1846, 
p. 562- 


not, indeed, historically, to the baby ' new to earth 
and sky,' but in the order of reflection, when the 
significance of the mental act is scrutinised. 

In metaphysical terminology, this mode of thought 
is described as Dualism. It declares that two terms, 
subject and object, the self and the scene around, 
are known together, and at the same time dis- 
criminated. It affirms the reality of this external 
world, not as something constituted by the mind's 
own act, but as something apprehended by it 
which actually is.^ It was marked off, on the 
one hand, from Idealism, where the thmker refers 
everything to the laws of his personal causality, 
and treats the ideas of an outward universe, and 
of infinite existence, as mere forms of thought, 
which cannot guarantee that things are as they 
seem. And it was marked off, on the other hand, 
from the exaggeration of the second term in the great 
antithesis till it absorbed the first. Dwell on the 
infinitude of the world and God, tiU the solitary 
Self is merged in the vast unity around, and you 
will march straight into Pantheism. Or, deny to 
the Self any more unity than that of a succession 
of impressions ; refuse to it any true causal power ; 
interpret it as nothing more than a series of conscious 
states emerging at the top of a physiological process ; 
and an atheistic Materialism will result.^ Against 

^ Martineau has here moved a long way from his College 
devotion to Berkeley ; cp. ante, chap. II. p 37*. 

2 This was, in fact, the doctrine of the Analysis of James Mill, 
which Martineau had been able to conciliate with religion by 
means of his prior conception of Revelation : it was also the 
doctrine of Comte's Philosophie Positive, with which he had made 
early acquaintance. 


both these dangers Mr. Martineau entrenched him- 
self strongly in the strenuous conviction of person- 
ality, which he derived from his ethical experience. 
His scheme of moral psychology was planted firmly 
on a practice of self-control, which admitted no doubt 
of the power of the will. He was himself a cause : 
and what he had learned in the sphere within, 
as he brought the elements of his own being into 
ordered harmony beneath the rule of conscience, 
he carried with him to the interpretation of the world 

Under what aspect, then, did non-personal causa- 
tion present itself ? Could we conceive a statue, 
incapable of motion, suddenly made conscious of 
the first antithesis involved in perception, and able 
to distinguish itself locally from the scene around, 
it would behold the successive changes of day and 
night pass by it, the com bend beneath the passing 
wind, the waves break on the shore, the clouds 
piled into towers and palaces and then dissolved 
it might even learn to note time-sequences, and 
expect the sunset and the dawn. But it would have 
no idea of power ; and could never link events in 
any relation of cause and effect. That has its seat 
in our own energy : ' the conscious rising of effort 
ag£iinst resistance is the real source of the idea.'^ In 
other words, in the physical world no less than in 
the moral, Cause is interpreted by Will.* 

* ' Parker's Discourse of Religion,' Essays, i. 173. 

*How far this doctrine, which played so prominent a part 
in Mr. Martineau's philosophy, was derived from his own self 
reflection, or how far it was consciously formed on the suggestion 
of others, cannot be definitely stated. Herschel, with whose 


Again and again, therefore, in his later essays, 
would the teacher repeat, with every variety of 
expository eloquence, the fundamental principle 
that ' the experience of Causation in ourselves is 
the birt;hplace of all our knowledge and thought 
upon this matter.' Only as it keeps close to it, 
has our language any meaning. Does the child 
ask who bends the rainbow or hangs up the moon, 
he only follows a primitive insight, which time may 
indeed dull, but can never correct. That ' every 
phenomenon must have a cause,' is an immediate 
intuition,^ given by the mind, and deserving of 
impUcit trust, for otherwise the world would be a 
chaos, and knowledge impossible. The necessity 
of this confidence is emphasised with unfailing 
stress. Admit that we are deceived when thought 
tells us that we are planted amid infinitudes of space, 
through whose every realm the same truths of 
geometry are invariably stable and sure ; grant 
that we err when we conceive that there are im- 
mensities behind us and before, through which for 
ever Hows the stream of time, incapable of being 
absorbed by the ocean of the eternal, — and the whole 
foundations of knowledge are shaken. As the con- 
writings he was familiar, had long before drawn attention to the 
significance of the sense of efiort in originating our ideas of causa- 
tion. Mr. Upton, Life, ii. 279, has noted that a similar identifica- 
tion of Cause with Will was made by Maine de Biran, the teacher 
of Cousin. Of Cousin's writings Mr. Martineau had been a careful 
student ; and Cousin also laid stress on the experience of effort 
and resistance in giving us the knowledge of our own causality : 
but he stopped short of the doctrine held by Mr. Martineau 
that we could have no other idea of causality, i.e., that all causa- . 
tion in nature must be referred to a seU-conscious Will. 

1 The maxim was afterwards defended in the form ' every ■ 
phenomenon is the expression of power.' 


ditions of all our experience, space and time must 
assuredly be ; they provide the scene on which we 
appear and act ; and only because they first are, 
is it possible for us to bring the events arotind us 
into intelligible connexion. To no attempt, therefore, 
to resolve space and time into forms imposed by us 
on the world without, requisite for its interpretation, 
yet destitute of reality, would Mr. Martineau 
concede the smallest measure of success.^ Inasmuch 
as they were not the products of experience, manu- 
factured out of sensation, but were shown by reflec- 
tion to be its universal and necessary antecedents 
in thought, he called them, with Kant, a priori 
ideas. Experience was not their source, though 
it was the occasion of their discovery : the historical 
and the rational orders of our knowledge must not 
be confused. But while he admitted that these 
ideas were given in the very constitution of our 
minds, he would never allow that this origin involved 
them in uncertainty, or disqualified them as wit- 
nesses to external reality. The ideas are inherent 
in our thought, because the actualities exist outside. 
Truth is the correspondence between the mind within 
and the fact without. There can be no higher 
authentication for an5d;hing, than that we are obliged 
to think it so. If this testimony is set aside, there 
is no other court of appeal. The only refuge from 

1 In his inaugural lecture in 1840 Mr. Martineau expressed a 
sense of shock that Whewell should have endeavoured to write 
the ■ Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences ' (then but a few weeks 
old) ' on the doctrine, long universal in Germany, that space 
and time have no absolute existence external to the mind, but 
are internal forms of thought ; mere relative conditions which 
our constitution imposes upon all our conceptions.' Bssaifs, iv. 7. 


utter scepticism is the trust that our self-knowledge 
is rightly mated with what is. 

On these bases was reared the fabric of a philo- 
sophical Theism. Common alike to the ethical 
regulation of the springs of action within, and to 
the metaphysical interpretation of the world without, 
is the causal Will. There is the term which provides 
the ground of harmony between the religion of the 
conscience, and the religion of nature. By Will Mr. 
Martineau understood activity consciously directed 
to an end. It implied a purpose, it expressed a 
personality. WLQ, other than conscious and personal, 
the teacher could not conceive. A blind unthinking 
Will was for him an express contradiction. The 
antithesis between causal power within and causal 
power without, therefore, took the form of an 
antithesis between two persons, the perceiving 
Self, and the not-Self interpreted personally, a Will 
not limited like ours by a bodily organisation, but 
operating everywhere and always, on the scale of 
the universe ; a Will not finite but infinite, in other 
words, the Will of God. The central fact derived 
from perception and the scheme of the not-Self, 
was the presence, universal and continuous, of this 
living Will. The scene for its exercise was provided 
by the unbounded space ; the occasions, by imending 
time. These were the eternal conditions of the 
divine activity ; self-existent, like God himself ; 
awful shapes, flanking his throne, which even his 
sovereignty could not transcend. They constitute 
the frame-work for all the ' happenings ' of the world, 
which Science observes and compares, till it has 
sorted them into groups, and drawn from them 


those summaries of uniform occurrences which we 
designate as ' Laws.' To these no causality attaches. 
They are only short statements of the changes 
which have been noted under recurring sets of con- 
ditions. They embody no power : they cannot 
constrain : they are in no sense ' forces.' ' Force ' 
is, indeed, only a part of the idea of Will. Abstract 
from this the element of purpose, and there remains 
only unthinking might, which can cause nothing, 
because it knows not what it would be at. Force, 
as defined by Martineau, ' Will minus purpose,' 
can neither exist nor act ; it is only a creation of 
the mind, convenient for scientific calculation, 
but in no way representing the total reality. Science, 
therefore, had no business to treat the terms which 
express the phases of power under various combina- 
tions of circumstance, as separate agents, and speak 
of gravity, or chemical attraction, or electricity, 
as causes. This is but a form of atheistic Fetichism :^ 
and the seer discerned ' no meaner superstition than 
its dynamic worship.' Better the savage, who erred, 
not in setting a background of Uving Will behind 
the objects and appearances of nature, but only in 
peopling the world with many such independent 
persons. ' The idolatry of science has retained the 
multitude, and taken away the Uving Will. The 
simplicity of Monotheism cancels the pretended host, 
and takes the collective universe as the S5Tiibol of 
the Omnipresent and the Omniactive Mind.' 

The positions thus summarised are far removed 

1 This rebuke, it must be remembered, was directed to the 
language of sixty years ago. ' Parker's Discourse of Religion,' 
Essays, i. 174. 


from the views expressed to a correspondent in 
1842, when he laid the whole stress of his thought 
upon the ' conununicated ' character of religion,^ 
and discouraged the methods of Paley and the 
Bridgewater Treatises. Compared with the elaborate 
rehabilitation of the argument from design in the 
Study of Religion,^ this intermediate stage still 
shows a singular indifference to conceptions on which 
he had previously dwelt with such calm reUance. 
Of the ' unity of counsel ' for which Paley had 
pleaded, there is here no trace. The ' not-self ' 
disclosed in perception is at once treated as an infinite 
unit ;* and the power pervading it is assumed to 
be everywhere the same. But if there is a pluraUty 
of human selves, why may there not be also a plur- 
ality of divine not-selves ? Why must the living 
Will which opposes ours be always and throughout 
identical ? Is there not something to be said for 
the savage, before he is dismissed that the mono- 
theist may enter in ? Doubtless, the teacher's 
mind is imbued with scientific conceptions of the 
order and coherence of the universe, with which 
his readers also were familiar. But the fact is that 
these are nowhere cited, and do not really constitute 
the suppressed term of thought. Once more, 
the answer is to be sought elsewhere. The intel- 
lectujil construction of the world is, after all, second- 
ary, in Martineau's early scheme, to the moral. The 
God revealed to the philosopher as the eternal Object, 
towards which we stand as subject, had first been 

1 See chap. VI. p. 199. * See chap. XVI. 

* By a ' synthesis ' in the not-self of the ideas of space and 
Will ; Prospective, 1846, p. 564. 


recognised by the prophet £is the Lord of conscience 
and the Sovereign of souls. Known in the secret 
chamber of the heart as the All-holy, revered as 
the divine goal of aspiration and endeavour, the 
Infinite Spirit admitted of no partition ; the functions 
of moral causation, with it5 recurring drama of fall, 
judgment, and restoration, could be distributed 
among no diversity of powers ; and the imity of the 
divine energy in physical nature was secured by the 
unity of its relation to human nature. When the 
conception thus formed coalesced with that yielded 
by the analysis of the act of perception, the gap 
between the Many and the One was immediately 
bridged ; and God was presented to the believer's 
thought as the ' author and finisher ' of both con- 
science and the world. The universe supplied the 
scale of his being ; the conscience declared that 
being moral ; and, to complete the faith, historical 
religion discerned in Christ the noblest image of his 
character, the Word made flesh in our humanity. 
If, from the centre of our personality, we could con- 
ceive our will withdrawn, while intellect and affection 
remained active, but removed from our volitional 
control, what account should we give of the source of 
these energies ? They would fall at once into the 
sphere of Nature, and in that realm would be due to 
the ever-operating WiU of God. In our ordinary con- 
sciousness, therefore, there is a meeting place of God 
with man : but its processes belong, as much as those 
of the physical organism, to that sphere of God's habit- 
ual action which we designate as the realm of law.^ 

' ' Parker's Discourse of Religion^' Essays, i. i8o. 

§iii] GOD IN HUMANITY 313 

Thiey are impersonal to man ; they are not strictly 
personal to God. For though they are the product of 
his activity, they only follow the pledged order of his 
energy, just as inNature. They are not theimmediate 
utterance of his Spirit, the free communications of his 
grace. But among the sentiments and affections at 
the upper end of our being, amid our reverences foi 
the beautiful and good, are gifts which are not the 
product of our will, ' which have been neither learned 
nor earned ; which, without the touch of any volun- 
tary process, appear in mysterious spontaneity ' ; 
this is the sphere of communion, or, in theological 
language, ' inspiration.' In words akin to those of 
New England Transcendentalism,^ the teacher 
affirms that ' thoughts of God, purposes of con- 
straining pity, sanctities of duty, rising above the 
level horizon of the mind, silent, self-evidencing, 
holy, clearing themselves, like the pure stars, as 
they ascend, of the low mists of doubt and fear, — 
these will ever be deemed true heaven-lights kindled 
from the eternal fires.'^ This is but a re-statement 
of the faith, announced five years before,^ in ' the 
strictly divine and inspired character of our own 
highest desires and best affections.' In moments 
of severer dialectic energy, the thinker might feel 

* They were quoted, alas, in mockery, alike in America and 
at home. 

^Essays, i. 181. Compare the defence of the Logos-doctrine, 
p. 184, where Revelation is described as ' an appearance, to beings 
who have something of a divine spirit within them, of a yet diviner 
without them [for Christians, viz., Christ], leading them to the 
Divinest of all, that embraces them both.' 

' Christian Teacher, 1841, ' Five Points of Christian Faith.' 
See ante, chap. VIII, p. 247. 


the danger of surrendering too much of the human 
personality to God. He could never forget that 
he had once lived in a scheme which gave God all, 
and merged each individual's control in one vast 
network of necessarian pantheism. In formal 
doctrine, therefore, he may find it necessary to 
rebuke a thinker who, like Parker, ' when sent by 
Spinoza into his field of speculation, might say, 
" I go not," but afterwards went.' Yet he himself, 
also, when he speaks the language of religion, 
released from the restraints of technical philosophy, 
conceives the highest life of souls as ' melting into 
the all-comprehending Spirit, that holds them " as 
the sea her waves." '^ It is the language of the 
mystic, before whose vision limitations drop away, 
and man and God are in essence one.^ 


The residence of Mr. Martineau and his family 
in Germany was marked, as he had foreseen, by some 
anxieties arising out of political agitation ; nor did 
its earlier months lack unexpected incidents which 
laid a severe strain on his affections. First his 

1 ' Pause and Retrospect,' 1848 : Essays, iv. 429. 

^ A difficult and delicate question is here involved, and I 
perc^ve that in the foregoing sketch I have placed the emphasis 
somewhat differently compared with Mr. Upton, Life ii. 302-308. 
I cannot, however, persuade myself that the passage cited by 
him (p. 306) from the review of Morell (Prospective, Nov. 1846, 
p. 561), is really intended to qualify the position defended in 
the Christian Teacher, and certainly reaffirmed in the essay on 
Parker as quoted above {Prospective, Feb. 1846). Students of 
Dr. Martiaeau's writings, however, well know that in the force 
with which he seized a particular idea at a given moment, other 
considerations were sometimes ignored. 

§iv] RESIDENCE IN GERMANY, 1848 315 

mother, then his aunt Mary Rankin, whose image 
was bound up with his childhood's memories, passed 
away. The family group was hardly established in 
Berlin for the winter semester at the University, 
when the eldest daughter was seized with a nervous 
fever, and hovered for weeks between life and death. 
The father had left Liverpool jaded and weary : 
slow was the recovery amid these cares. Once able, 
however, to resume with free mind the studies to 
which he had resolved to devote himself, he regained 
his powers, and felt that the stimulus he received 
constituted a veritable ' new intellectual birth.'^ 

He at first settled at Dresden, where picture 
Gallery and Theatre provided abundant diversion 
amid the occupations which engaged the whole 
circle no less strenuously abroad than at home.^ 
In Saxon Switzerland he found satisfaction for his 
love of mountain wandering, which he extended to 
the range separating Prussian Silesia from Bohemia. 
An ascent of the Schneekoppe, ' the highest point 
between the Tyrol and Norway,' brought with it 
impressions of forest solemnity which he afterwards 
reported to Mr. Thom. 

Besides the inveiriable grandeurs of all mountain scenery 
and the interest of drinking at their fountains the waters of the 

1 Preface to Types of Ethical Theory, 1885, vol. i. p. xii. The 
special significance of this period lay (as will be seen) in a new- 
grasp of ontological conceptions : ' I thus came into the same 
plight, in respect to the cognitive and aesthetic side of life, that 
had already befallen me in regard to the moral." 

2 The entertainments included a Ball and Supper at the 
Tercentenary of the Dresden Kapelle, which kept Mr. Martineau 
amused till three a.m., Wagner being one of the heroes of the 
occasion, and the great actress, Mme. Schroeder-Devxient, being 
forced by the public enthusiasm to mount upon the table. 


Iser and the Elbe, — the peculiar features of forest scenery which 
were quite new to me, gave a special charm to the journey ; 
I never knew before the solitude, — enough to take away one's 
breath, — ^in which upland wood and water sighing and singing 
in the winds could place one. The solemn mystic spirit of the 
Teutonic mythology needs no other commentator than the voice 
of the pine mountain.^ 

Politics rather than scenery, however, soon became 
the chief interest outside the family circle and its 
various pursuits, in language, philosophy, literature, 
and art. On this head Prof. F. W. Newman was the 
chief recipient of the traveller's impressions. Abroad, 
as at home, he was a dihgent student of the news- 
papers ; he found time also for active social inter- 
course ; and with quick observation, and rapid 
powers of generalising, he was soon famihar with 
the chief features of the new scenes. 

The first incidents of his Berlin stay, including his 
daughter's illness, are thus described. 

My dear Newman,- ^"'"'^' 1^"^'"^ ^7. 1849. 

The sight of your handwriting, even when it reproaches 
my own neglects, is ever delightful to me. The long 
silence I have allowed myself to keep, has been due, this 
time, to a protracted state of anxiety, now, I am thank- 
ful to say, brought to a close. 

We had no sooner effected our removal hither at the 
end of October, than our eldest daughter, Isabella, was 
taken ill ; and yesterday I took my first walk out with 

1 Life, i. 190. This excursion was not without a small adventure 
which Dr. Martineau recalled thirty years after. Heavy rain on 
the ascent drenched the climbers to the skin. ' Stopping midway, 
at a Uttle hospice in the mountains, we were persuaded to strip 
and hang up our clothes by the stoves to Aty. The difficulty 
was, how mcanw;hile to dispose of our own persons, especially as we 
were ravenous, and had no idea of going to bed. But with a 
blanket and skewer apiece we got under cover, and sat, like a 
party of wild Indians, doing eager justice to the best of Weinsuppe 
and Forellen.' Life i. 183. 


her since that time. The complaint has been the 
terrible nervous fever so prevalent in all the large 
continental towns, and so fatal to young persons 
especially. For a fortnight she was in a state of extreme 
danger, and for nearly a week almost the last hope was 
gone. But she is with us still ; and though her recovery 
from so low a point has been (as her physician says) a 
new birth and growth, requiring many weeks to achieve, 
her restoration is perfect, and the joy of its progress has 
been unspeakable. Of all that has been comprised 
within this three months, of anguish, submission, hope, 
and gratitude, I can say nothing now : it seems like a 
sorrowful dream dissipated at length by the opening 
light. The constant sweetness and transparent good- 
ness of the dear patient herself, have passed, however, 
through the whole, one invariable thread of saintly 
beauty and sad delight. In addition to other things 
we had the vulgar misery of being in lodgings, where the 
people behaved infamously ; taking every advantage 
of our distress for purposes of extortion, and obliging us 
to buy off aU sorts of brutality and insult. We are much 
better off now, though the Berlin lodgings are not to be 
praised, being, as compared with other places, dirty, 
incommodious, and inordinately dear. 

The improved look of political affairs about the middle 
of October, and the report of Ewald's removal from 
Tiibingen, determined as to venture hither. The first 
fortnight of November was a period of intense anxiety, 
and half induced me to repent. Every day seemed to 
render a conflict between the citizens and the troops 
more inevitable. The mob round the Schauspielhaus 
(where the Assembly met) presented a living commentary 
on the scenes of the old French Revolution. The 
Assembly debated with its doors nailed ttp by the people 
outside : and halterS were exhibited in the streets for 
the necks of the refractory members. Had not the 
prorogation and removal of the Assembly — the entrance 
of the troops — the disarming of the Burgerwehr-rthe . 


enforcement of the Bdagerungszustand — the dissolution 
of the Assembly — and the proclcimation of the new 
Constitution, been all effected with singular promptitude 
and decision in re, and great moderation in modo, results 
the most appalling would probably have accrued. 
Within the last few days, a plot of the Democratic party, 
intended to come off on the 12th November, is said to 
have been discovered : the soldiers were to have been 
brought into conflict with the Biirgerwehr — the workmen 
and the forces of the democratic clubs being held in 
reserve till the Bourgeoisie were sufficiently weakened 
and cut down to give up the game to the Arbeiter, whose 
victory was to be facilitated by a firing of the city in 
severaJ parts simultaneously. A proscription list of 
persons to be massacred, with others whose case was to 
be reconsidered, has been pubhshed by the Patriotic 
Association, who have got on the traces of this con- 
spiracy. The several club-committees, with all the 
names, dates, and places of meeting — responsible for 
these proscription lists — ^have been disclosed. I have 
seen the lists for some of the principal streets : and 
almost every other house had its victim, no professional 
person or higher tradesman, at edl known to be a pro- 
nounced anti-repubhcan, being allowed to escape. I 
observed the names of Professors Gabler and Rudorf 
among the number. My first impulse was to disbelieve 
all this, and attribute the report to the credulity of 
poUtical passion and fear. But the most sensible and 
best-informed persons of my acquaintance here assure 
me that the evidence, both personal and documentary, 
is complete ; that many arrests have taken place already 
on the strength of it ; and that the trials will remove all 
doubt from the minds of the sceptical. The scheme, 
I suppose, was baffled by the suddenness and rapidity 
with which the troops were marched into the city on the 
I2th November. . . . 

For myself, I restrict my attention entirely to my own 
subjects, and attend but two courses by Professor 

§iv] RESIDENCE AT BERLIN, 1849 319 

Trendelenburg ; one, on Logic and Metaphysics, the 
other on the History of Philosophy. I tried some of the 
other Lecture-rooms in which the Hegelianer hold forth. 
But all these men displeased me ; and two out of the 
three seemed little better than declamatory impostors 
quite of the old Sophist class : and I left them with 
something like disgust, and determined to study Hegel 
by and for myself. I find Trendelenburg's lectures on 
Aristotle and Plato of great value : very thorough, 
careful, and sound ; and there is in the man a direct and 
unperverted truthfulness, and a noble moral tone, which 
is in delightful contrast with everything I elsewhere 
observe in the philosophical school of Berlin. Without 
thinking very highly of him as an original thinker, I 
have found no one who, as a guide and critic in reference 
to the systems of other men, renders such reliable and 
agreeable service. Here I am at the end of my paper, 
and I deliver you from my clatter. 

By such aid was it that 'the metaphysic of the 
world ' came home to him.^ A further glimpse of 
his philosophical interests is afforded by a letter to 
the Rev. Joseph Henry Hutton,^ then occupying 
his pulpit at Liverpool, after the Christmas doings — 
including the ' annual tree ' with all its ' fruitful 
mysteries ' — are safely over. Mr. Richard Holt 
Hutton was at Berlin studying, with his old teacher. 

Berlin, December 31, 1848. 
He and I have at length begun some of our reading 
together ; and his companionship will vastly relieve the 
dry and weary study of Hegel, into whose mysteries we 
are determined to force an initiation.* I confess that 
till I came here I had no just apprehension of the extent 

1 Preface to Types of Ethical Theory, 1885, vol. i. p. xiii. 

2 Brother of Mr. R. H. Hutton. 

' Mr. Hutton, in recalling these days, when Dr. Martineau 
resigned the Principalship of Manchester New College, dwelt 


to which the German sphere of speculative thought 
differs from ours ; and of the imprassibility of passing 
from one to the other and back again at particular points 
of apparent relation. Both, I perceive, must be separa- 
tely and pretty completely occupied, and their distinct 
methods of formation — the one by evolution from the 
centre to the superficies — the other by involution from 
superficies to centre — conscientiously followed out, 
before they can be compared, and their relations to the 
truth of things determined. Slowly but sensibly the 
contents of this new world open themselves to me. 
Already one thing strikes me forcibly : the great 
affinity between the Greek and the German philosophical 
ideas, and the strong light which each throws upon the 
other. The very languages seem to have such a relation, 
that passages from Plato which seem ridiculous in 
French or English, assume the aspect of sense and 
thought when presented by a professor in a German 
translation. There is something in tliis which at present 
I can only imperfectly understand. A philosopher of the 
John Bull species — ^like om- friend the reviewer of 
Morell — ^would say that the German average of common 
sense in philosophy being so low, it was an agreeable 
surprise to find any meaning at all in a Teutonic specula- 
tive utterance ; so that when Plato talks German, one 
is delighted at so great an improvement upon the native 
speech, but that when he talks English, one finds out 
that he disappoints the standard of London as much as 
he exceeds that of Berlin. This theory wUl not do, 
however, and I am persuaded that the complexion of 
the antagonistic languages differs, from their embodying 

on this common study with grateful remembrance, ' The 
thermoQieter was not much above Zero, and we were not only 
padded up to the chin, but our feet enclosed in what we used 
to call the habere Einheit of a fur shoe. It was there that my mind 
was subjected to that strenuous influence, and that he illustrated 
to his pupils, one or two of them, the same earnestness in under- 
taking the severe and less agreeable forms of study which he 
impressed npoa us last night.' Retirement Proceedings. 


different, but equally real, elements of human conscious- 
ness, and taking up the constituents common to both in 
an inverse order of relations. The absence or complete 
subordination — at least since the time of Kant — of the 
moral element in the German philosophy is very striking. 
So far as I know. Moral Philosophy has scarcely an 
existence in the literature, and it has no place in the 
University instruction, of this country ; and the notions 
relating to its topics which present themselves in books 
and lectures on kindred subjects, are of the crudest and 
strangest kind. It is a curious and expressive fact that 
the whole idea and development of Ethical Science in 
modem Europe has been almost exclusively British. 
Yet the Germans have a fixed idea that in the phrase 
' English philosopher ' there lies an inherent contra- 
diction, like that which would be involved in the notion 
of a Tartar poet or an Esquimaux gentleman. . 

For once I believe I have said nothing of poUtics ; 
the best assurance that all anxiety is for the present 
over. There is in truth a complete lull just now ; all 
eagerness and passion being distributed over the country 
in detaUed and inconspicuous preparation for the 
elections, instead of concentrated in Berlin in expectation 
of insurrection. I think even my democratic friends at 
home will admit that the course of events has thus far 
rather justified than discredited the opinions which 
made them complain of my conservatism. The interest 
of Prussian politics is now adjourned to February — a 
month upon whose issues the peace of the country and 
the security of the crown are staked. The admirable 
conduct of soldiers here, their discipline, sobriety, and 
kindly courtesy — a conduct felt by all classes, for they 
come in contact with all — has insensibly, but most 
materially, altered the temper of Berlin, and allayed its 
disaffection towards the Government. Now must I say 
the last word. With our united love and true wishes, 
for the coming and for all years. 

Ever your affectionate, 

James Martineau. 


The winter months passed quickly amid philo- 
sophical studies, poUtical interests, and the social 
activities of the University circles into which Mr. 
Martineau was introduced.^ When the spring came, 
he prepared to break up his five-months' encamp- 
ment, and move southward. As he bids farewell 
to the companion of his studies, R. H. Hutton, a 
note introducing him to Prof. Newman contains the 
following passage : — 

Berlin. March 28, 1849. 
I look with the profoundest interest to the appearance of 
your book,* which, however small, cannot fail to be (according 
to our measure of magnitude) the great work of your life. The 
more I see of the state of religion among intellectual men here, 
the more do 1 distrust the new sceptical direction taken in England 
by Froude, and, I suppose, many other admirers of Spinoza : 
and you are the only Uving man, loose from historical Christianity, 
from whom I could expect the exhibition of a positive faith in 
harmony with the hi^er Reason, without abatement of trust in 
the oracles of Conscience. It fills me with amazement that 
Froude, or any other man whom you can admire, should speak 
with eulogy (such as I see quoted from his Nemesis of Faith) 
of the development of Spinozism in Germany. I cannot but 
suspect that it is an illusion arising from very partial knowledge. 

At the beginning of April Mr. Martineau took his 
family into Bavaria. When the melting snows 
opened the seclusion of the mountains, they passed 
to Berchtesgaden, and the Konigsee, of which he 
used to speak fondly as the most beautiful spot he 
had ever visited. They were at Vienna ' in the most 
fearful hour of the Hungarian struggle,' but the 
courage with which he made his venture was justified 
by the result ; his plans triumphed over all emer- 
gencies ; he could recall nearly thirty years later 

1 He heard Neander lecture, though he did not meet him in 
private. Of the historian's platform-methods the philosopher sent 
a wonderfully vivid description to his friend Mr. Thorn, Life, i. 191. 

' The promised volume on The Soul. 


that his programme of travel had been completely 
fulfilled. In the Austrian capital (as doubtless at 
other places on their route), they successfully spent 
the allotted number of days, and saw all they had 
proposed to see. The last weeks were passed at 
Heidelberg, and through Bonn and Antwerp the 
family returned to Hull,^ reaching Liverpool soon 
after the middle of September. 

The Annus Mirabilis was over. The preacher re- 
turned to ' the work of reorganising a large congre- 
gation in adaptation to the altered wants of the 
present time.' The philosophical lecturer had begun 
to entertain plans pressed upon him by his younger 
comrade in study, R. H. Hutton ; ' Greatly do I lay to 
heart what you say about the need of a new work on 
the foundations of Morals.' ^ But in the few days' 
pause ere he resumed his Liverpool duties, the old 
burdens of responsibility and care loomed painfully 
before him. Pathetically modest is his estimate 
of his gain, to F. W. Newman (Sept. 24) : ' I shall 
always be thankful for this year of absence. It 
has at least assured me that I am not too old to 
learn, and somewhat relieved the depressing self- 
distrust which was weighing me down in spite of 
every effort of will and faith.' 

1 The voyage was perilous. The regular steamer being disabled, 
Mr. Martineau arranged with the captain of a small fruit boat to 
take his party on board. There was no passenger accommodation, 
and the stormy voyage lasted three nights and two days. Driven 
out of his course, the captain knew not where he was, when Mr. 
Martineau recognised a triangular arrangement of lights upon the 
Norfolk coast. His local knowledge saved them. 

2 Letter from Warmbrunn, Aug. 11 ; Life, ii. 337. 



From Germany Mr. Martineau returned to England 
to resume his pastorate at Liverpool in the beautiful 
new Church in Hope Street. For the next eight 
years — ^just half the period of his previous ministry 
— this was the chief scene of his labours. The 
foundations of his theology and philosophy had 
been securely laid ; he never again needed to change 
his general interpretation of human experience. 
The verdicts of criticism might be revised ; discarded 
arguments might be shaped anew ; against novel 
attacks fresh defences might be required. But for 
half a century he would live in the faith which he 
had found deep-seated in his soul ; he would express 
it in the same forms of thought ; he would sustain 
it by the same appeals to the witness of the con- 
science, and the veracity of the intellect. Through 
the prodigious literary activity of these next stren- 
uous years there breathes a certain noble confidence, 
as of one who had striven and had attained ; yet 
deeper still the quick ear can detect the sigh of a 
pathetic loneliness; for amid rapidly growing 
recognition he was exposed also to his severest 
personal trials. 



Surrounded by both Protestant and Catholic 
tj^es of religious organisation during his continental 
sojourn, Mr. Martineau had meditated continually 
on the functions of a Church, and his first care on 
his return was to prepare the way for more faithful 
and effective work alike for the worshippers within 
the congregation to which he ministered, and the 
community without. The direction which these 
efforts were to take, is indicated in the following 
letter addressed to the Rev. J. H. Hutton.^ 

Berchtesgaden, Bavjiria. 

Here we are established in probably our last resting- 
place before we turn our faces homewards ; and as our 
Annus Mirabilis draws to its completion, and I grate- 
fully see its fruits of benefit in our young people, I often 
ask in heart the question you press upon me, whether it 
has brought me the new life I needed for the duties that 
lie before me. The answer perhaps can only be given 
by experience. The utterly jaded feeling with which I 
left England, I have certainly lost : and though by 
natural constitution of mind I have been denied the 
enjoyment of strong hope, I am not without a chastened 
expectation of doing better justice to the claims upon me 
than in previous years. With the good help of God I mean 
to try. Every human aid and resource has been allowed 
me ; and if now I fail, it can only be from the loss either 
of faculty or of fidelity. The year has afforded, not- 
withstanding interruptions, better opportunities of study 
and reflection than I have had since my college days. 

I think often and anxiously, I wish I could say, hope- 
fully, about a scheme of congregational co-operation ; 
without which, I do not hesitate to say, the very idea 

1 The contemporary copy accidentally omits the date. 


and possibility of a Christian society is lost, and the 
venerable phrases by which we describe our congrega- 
tions are a mockery. Then why not devise at once 
a remedy for such an evil ? you may reasonably say. 
There is perhaps no great difficulty in drawing out a 
paper program, embod3dng the theory of a far better 
system of things than the present. Nor are our members 
slow to join in our complaints of the evil, and wish to 
see it abated. But when it came to the practical ad- 
ministration of a plan of mutual help in the Christian 
life, I doubt whether it would not meet with an over- 
powering resistance from the habits and notions of 
modem society. I feel the greatest repugnance to the 
mere form and profession of co-operation and union, 
without the reality ; periodical meetings without sub- 
stantive object, tea-drinkings for mere speechifjdng, 
praying classes for emotional emulation — are all hollow 
affairs, radically morbid, and tending to detach Christi- 
anity more and more from life. Unless, therefore, we 
can find materials of positive duty for joint performance, 
the attempt at union seems hopeless ; and there Ues 
the difiiculty which oppresses me. It will not do to 
invent duties which people will not feel to be such, in order 
to get up church mechanism ; the Church exists for the 
sake of individual goodness, not individuals for the sake 
of the Church. 

Yet I do not altogether despair of finding some points 
in the personal conscience, waiting, as it were, to be 
brought to life by such agency as a congregational 
fraternity may apply. Everyone recognises the duty 
of charity and help to the weak : yet the performance 
of this duty has become so embarrassed and difficult 
in private life, that few, I suppose, are satisfied with the 
way in which they meet its claims. To make the Church 
the centre of this set of obligations ; to watch first over 
the poor or reduced who may belong to us ; next over 
those who are within easy reach through the schools ; 
and to refer to the associated body of deacons (or what- 


ever we might call them) cases lying still further, but 
appearing to demand attention — might bring into order 
a class of desires and duties now in sad confusion, and 
that, not by handing them over (as in the Domestic 
Mission plan) to a delegate, but by taking a share in 
combined and organised labour. 

[The writer then proceeded to develop his favourite plans for 
the instniction of the young, through several years, leading up 
to a ' kind of confirmation service suitable to a crisis which sur- 
renders them from the avowed guidance of another to their own 
undivided responsibility.' This would be the natural period 
for first joining the communion service and becoming eUgible 
for posts of trust and service in the fraternity of charity and 
the service of the Church. J 

The new Church was opened on Thursday, October 
18, the pastor himself conducting the service of 
dedication, and the sermon being preached by the 
teacher of his own boyhood, the Rev. Thomas 
Madge.^ At the soiree in the evening he was 
welcomed back by a large assemblage in the newly 
erected Philharmonic HaU. With characteristic 
reserve he would give no pledges, — ' Whatever 
resolves are formed upon the growth and rise of 
future opportunities, are better hidden deep in the 
heart, and breathed only to him who can give them 
the strength and fervour of devotion ' — but he 
declared emphatically that the influence of Christ- 
ianity on the political future and social condition 
of Germany was extinct, and he warned his hearers 
that mighty political and religious changes would 
take place in England, in the coming years, which 

1 Mr. Martineau's contributions to the Church were twofold ; on 
the one hand, some reproductions of the works of Thorwaldsen, 
with which he had become acquainted in Germany ; on the 
other, a ' most perfect system of ventilation,' devised in con- 
junction with his^brother-in-law, Mr. Alfred Higginson. 


the old influences would do little to control or direct; 
Over against the gospel of the economists, ' help 
yourself,' stood the ancient Gospel of the Christian 
Chiu-ch, ' help one another ' ; and they would not 
fulfil their duties unless they sustained a Christian 
life, and spread it by a kind of missionary action 
in the circle aroimd.^ With the same insistence 
did he proclaim the following Sunday, as he described 
the ' Angel of Service,' that ' in every Church the 
only classification known should be of character 
and age ; and in using these as grounds of mutual 
service, provision should be made for teaching the 
child, for lifting the suffering, for confirming the 
weak, and for suppl5nng duties proportioned to the 
strength of the strong.'^ 

For these ends, the classes for reUgious instruction 
were carefully reorgtmised, and maintained with 
unwearying faithfulness. The preacher would often 
gladly have given place to another voice ; but the 
continuity of teaching must not be thus casually 
interrupted, and to what visitor could he delegate 
this sacred task ? So he bore his responsibilities 
alone, and only rarely took part in coixrses of evening 
lectures elsewhere, in places accessible by late after- 
noon trains.* To the Communion Service he devoted 
great attention. Among his brethren at the Pro- 

1 Christian Reformer, 1849, p. 754. 

* Oi this sermon, ' The Watch-night Lamps.' Essays, iv. 447, 
it was observed at the time that it bore ' signs of more than 
ordinary labour,' Christian Reformer, 1850, p. 38. The biographer 
of a later day receives a similar impression, and feels the splendour 
of language and imagery ' betray more than usual the labour of 
composition,' Life, i. 199. 

3 A note of apology on this head is sounded at the opening of 
the Birkenhead Church, Inquirer, Sept. 6, 1851. 


vincial Assembly, he once confessed that there had 
been times in his own life when he had felt the 
ceremonial parts of it an obstruction, and doubted 
whether he could continue to use the elements of 
bread and wine. It was no looseness of conviction, 
or scepticism as to the origin of the rite, that deterred 
him. His difficulty sprang ' from a fear of profaning 
religion by connecting it with an external act of 
manipulation, a bodily ceremonial.'^ It left him 
with a great respect for the scruples of a sensitive 
religious mind. Partly to allay them, he devoted 
nine months (in 1855) to a course of weekly lectures 
on the history of the Eucharist ; the issue divided 
his hearers into two classes, ' those who shrunk from 
a usage so rarely clear of superstition, and those 
who were drawn to the commemoration by its 
inherent beauty and significance.' To these latter 
he delivered a special ' Confirmation Address,' on 
the first Sunday in the New Year, before the service 
in which many joined for the first time.^ 

Outside the Church lay the vast and multifarious 
crowds of a great city. To ' the dull old scenes 
and neighbourhood of this town and port,' the heart 
of the absent preacher had again and again gone 
forth in the midst of ' ten thousand glories of God 
in the face of creation.'^ The work that went 
deepest, and was most fruitful of future good, 

1 Speech at Manchester, June 23, 1853. Christian Reformer, 
1853. P 517- 

^ Hours of Thought, vol. ii., preface. The address will be found 
in the same volume, p. 361, together with two other Communion 

* Speech at the opening of Hope St., Christian Reformer, 
1849. P- 754- 


was the work of education. In two years after the 
completion of the Church, new day and Sunday 
schools were built, with provision for 420 scholars.^ 
There he himself held Bible classes, in which children 
of all denominations were assembled, every week. 
A careful scheme of visiting was devised, which 
carried refined women into many a poor home, 
CathoUc and Protestant, Anghcan or Dissenter, 
and, through the natural ties established by partici- 
pation in a common effort for the children, extended 
the helpfulness of the Church, without infringing 
on the obhgations, or wounding the self-respect, 
of the parents. With the teachers of the Simday 
Schools Mr. Martineau maintained the closest rela- 
tions, presiding at their monthly meetings (with 
the inevitable tea), planning the work of the classes, 
and listening to the visitors' reports. Further down 
in the city was the Domestic Mission, on which he 
kept an ever-watchful eye. For these institutions 
he pleaded in London,^ in Manchester, in Norwich, 
with a growing and even passionate interest in the 
immense social problems of the age. Concerning 
external remedies for the evils which weighed upon 
his heart, his judgment moved curiously to and 
fro : but to the moral and religious methods of the 
Missions he remained ever constant. 

1 They were opened on Dec. 29, 1851. 

2 On April 17, 1853, at Little Portland Street Chapel ; his 
first appearance (I beUeve) since the Aggregate Meeting of 1838, 
described in chap. VII. The Inquirer, April 23, noted the presence 
of ' members of the legislature, metropolitan magistrates, clergy- 
men and laymen of several denominations, and many men of 
literajy repute,' not a few being compelled to stand throughout 
the service. Manchester, Oct. 28, 1854. Norwich, May 12, 1856. 



The chief element in the religion which animated 
this activity, was an unwearied and persistent 
endeavour. That was the first angel whose light 
the preacher's eye had discerned among the ' Watch- 
night Lamps.' Many were the adverse influences with 
which he felt called to contend. The rising claims 
of science, especially when interpreted by the Logic 
of John Stuart Mill, threatened the whole fabric 
of Theism ; and in the person of Auguste Comte 
had long boasted the victory of the ' positive ' spirit. 
The spectacle of Germany proved only too clearly 
what dangers lay in a withered orthodoxy on the one 
hand, and a ' purely intellectual and critical theology ' 
on the other. In his own country the preacher saw 
the impressions of previous years coniirmed ; no- 
where was the alienation of the higher and profes- 
sional classes from all religious faith so widespread 
and complete ;^ while the estrangement of the 
labouring masses filled the towns with disbelief.^ 
Only in the middle classes did religion hold its own ;* 
and with neither of its great mediatorial types, 
sacerdotal or evangelical, could he place himself 
in sympathy. In 1849 Trinitarianism was in the 
ascendant at home ; a pantheistic sociahsm was 
rampant abroad ; and in his first sermon in the 

I'The Restoration of Belief," Westminster, July, 1852; 
Studies of Christianity, p. 356. 

2 Speech at Norwich, Inquirer, 1856, p. 332 ; where he quotes 
a curious investigation of Priestley's, to the effect that one-third 
of the inhabitants of large towns were never brought within the 
influence of a Christian society. 

3 Speech at the Hope Street soir6e. Christian Reformer, 1849, 
P 752. 


new Church he thus described the hosts mustering 
for battle : — 

On the one hand the venerable Genius of a Divine Past goes 
round with cowl and crozier ; and from the Halls of Oxford 
and the Cathedrals of Europe, gathers, by the aspect of ancient, 
sanctity and the music of a sweet eloquence and the praises of 
consecrated Art, a vast multitude of devoted crusaders to fight 
with him for the ashes of the Fathers and the sepulchres of the 
first centuries. On the other, the young Genius of a Godless 
Future, with the serene intensity of metaphysic enthusiasm 
on his brow, and the burning songs of liberty upon his Ups, 
wanders through the great cities of our world, and in toilmg 
workshops and restless colleges preaches the promise of a golden 
age, when priests and kings shall be hurled from their oppressive 
seat, and freed humanity, relieved from the incubus of worship, 
shall start itself to the proportions of a God. Who shall abide 
in peace the crash and conflict of this war ? He only, I believe, 
whose allegiance is neither to the antiquated Past, nor to the 
speculative Future ; but to the imperishable, the ever-present 
Soul of man as it is ; who keeps close, amid every change, to the 
reality of human nature which changes not ; and who, following 
chiefly the revelations of the Divine Will to the open and con- 
scious mind, and reading Scripture history, and life, by their 
interpreting light, feels the serenity and rests on the stability 
of God. 

The religion that lay enshrined in the ' ever- 
present soul of man,' was necessarily a religion of 
individualism ; and the stress laid on ' endeavour ' 
indicated its ethical character. It dwelt in the 
sohtude of each responsible agent' ;^ it was involved 
in the recognition of obUgations which could not 
be transferred from one person to another, and 
forbade all attempts at extension or identification 
of spiritual states between the believer and Christ. 
Regarding Jesus simply as an historical individual, 
' with the chasm of an incommunicable personality 
between him and us,' the preacher found no ' other 
bridge of mediation than the suasion of natiural 

1 ' Mediatorial Religion,' National Review, April, 1856 ; 
Studies of Christianity, p, 171. 


reverence, by which his image passes into the heart 
of faith.' The element of gratitude to a Deliverer, 
which fiUed the devout heart of Evangelical piety 
with lowly thankfulness, was therefore wanting to 
him. Nor did he ever freely surrender himself to 
the mere gladness of living, or to the delight in 
natural beauty. He never preached, as Theodore 
Parker did, on ' Conscious Religion £is a source of 
joy.' He was, indeed, profoundly susceptible to 
beauty and love. In the midst of his family his 
cheerfulness, his hearty laugh, his enjoyment of 
fun, his brightness and geniality, all seemed to his 
children not only absolutely consistent with his 
religion, but its direct outcome. Yet he spoke of 
himself once as having ' a mind with more care 
of conscience than fuU joy of faith.'^ This ' care 
of conscience ' never left him. For him religion 
was, primarily, ' a sentiment of Reverence for 
a Higher than ourselves.'^ Again and again is 
this aspect of it emphasised : ' we are capable only 
of a religion of Reverence, which bows before the 
authority of Goodness.''^ The fundamental idea of 
Christendom is accordingly defined as ' the ascent 
through conscience into communion with God.'* 
In this process, faith may soar towards the goal, and 
rise into the life of the spirit, full of love, joy, peace. 
But experience is only too conscious of the hindrances 

iTo Mr. Thorn, 1857. Life, i. 321. 

2 ' The Restoration of Belief,' Studies, p. 368. 

2 ' The God of Revelation his own Interpreter,' 185 1. Essays, 
iv. 480. On the significance of this sermon see chap. XI. 

* ' The Ethics of Christendom,' Westminster, January, 1852 
Studies, p. 306. 


upon the way. James Martineau realised the failure, 
rather than the rapture, of endeavour. Christianity 
was to him ' an unutterable sigh after an ideal perfec- 
tion,' and its devotion one long-drawn ' wail of 
penitence.'^ Fearless as he seemed in the field of 
intellect, he owned himself in the realm of conscience 
to belong to the order of ' dependent minds.'^ 
He saw his friend Newman stand undismayed 
before the Infinite, without the need of any mediating 
object of reverence. He was even willing to acknow- 
ledge in this characteristic ' a perfection of mind,' 
and to confess his own ' clinging to images of extreme 
admiration ' to be a weakness. But it was a weak- 
ness, he added, in which he found it ' indispensable 
to live.'' Some highest in man he must have visibly 
before him, to assure him of its infinite counterpart 
in God. This spiritual need it was which led him 
to defend with such energy the conception of the 
moral perfectness of Christ ; and in proportion to 
the earnestness of his conviction was his pain at 
his exile from the S5mipathies of traditional faith, 
his distress at the horror and scorn with which 
others regarded his humanitarian interpretation of 

That the Gospel of conscience was not complete, 
in whichever type it presented itself, — the Ethical 
or the Passionate^ — he was well aware. Theism 

1 See the testimony of Miss Catherine Winkworth to his sense 
of sin, infra, chap. XI. p. 396. 

2 ' Phases of Faith,' Prospective Review, 1850. Essays, iii. 36. 

3 Letter to R. H. Hutton, 1850 ; Life, i. 339. 

♦ Letter to R. H. Hutton, 1852 ; Life, i. 341. 

* ' One Gospel in many Dialects/ 1856 ; Studies, p. 403. 


was, indeed, ' the indispensable postulate of con- 
science, — its objective counterpart and justification, 
without which its inspirations would be illusions, 
and its veracities themselves a lie.'^ But after all, 
it left deep longings of the spirit unsatisfied. It 
emphasized the idea of Law : beneath sovereignty 
and judgment the sense of communion, the S5anpathy 
of an indwelling Presence, was obscured. No more 
than Tauler could Martineau live in the moralism 
of Kant.^ If, on the one side, he felt a deep apprecia- 
tion for Jacobi, on the other he was drawn towards 
Schleiermacher, for had not he, too, learned of 
their common teacher, Plato ?* Around the solemn 

^ ' Distinctive Tjrpes of Christianity,' 1854 ; Studies, p. 5. 

2 Ibid. Studies, p. 3. 

3 On these writers Miss Susanna Winkworth records some 
interesting judgments. At the house of Mr. Tayler in Manchester, 
March 16, 1852, Mr. Martineau expressed a strong distrust of 
German pantheism ; but when the conversation turned on a 
recently published life of Perthes, and Miss Winkworth spoke 
of his friendship with Jacobi, Mr. Martineau eagerly asked for 
further explanations about the latter, professed his admiration 
for him, and declared that he had never been properly appreciated 
in Germany. Two months later, at Park Nook, Mr. Martineau 
affirmed that Schleiermacher produced a temporary reaction in 
favour of religion at the cost of lasting mischief. In a later 
communication, Mr. Martineau, referring to this, said : ' In 
his construction of a theology he started from a principle — the 
consciousness of Dependence — and worked upon a method — 
of analysis of feelings — from which he could gain and did gain 
no faith in either a Personal God or the immortaUty of the soul ; 
and to me a religion which is destitute of these beliefs has no moral 
or spiritual worth. So far, therefore, as Schleiermacher led 
the generation which he influenced to be content with an intel- 
lectual and aesthetic mysticism, and mistake it for a religion — 
nay, to identify it with the essence of Christianity, — I cannot 
but regard his teaching as unsound, and leading inevitably to 
the later disintegration which had its chief representative in 
Strauss ; or, I should rather say, failing inevitably to arrest 
it ; for Strauss was the product of Hegel rather than Schleier- 
macher. . . . Yet in spite of my judgment, I have always had 


sanctuary of the Infinite Holiness was a boundless 
atmosphere of thought and affection. Here was 
the home of all beauty, and those ever-varying 
spontaneities of creative gladness which constituted 
God, in Browning's vivid phrase, the ' perfect 
Poet, who alone perfectly lived out his own creations.' 
This element sdso demanded recognition : it spoke 
in meditative and perceptive minds ; it breathed 
through NovaUs in a tender mysticism ; foiuid in 
Emerson its purest example ; and supplied the 
essence of Carlyle's gospel in Sartor, ' before the 
divine thirst had advanced so much into a human 
rabies.'^ To blend these two tendencies was the 
preacher's constant aim : and their spheres were 
defined in the maxim ' Let Theism keep Morals, 
and Pantheism may have Nature.' 

This was not, however, an entirely exhaustive 
delimitation. Nature is usually, for Martineau, the 
realm in which God has pledged himself to those 
fixed ways which we sum up under the term Law. 
In the mechanism of the human frame he acts, 
as he acts in the scene around, along preordained 
lines of invariable constancy. Not such are his 
dealings with human souls. There is a scene where 
Living Mind can speak with living minds, in tones 
of encouragement or of rebuke, of kindling sugges- 
tion or supporting love. At times, indeed, this is 
confined to the moral life, where ' in the inmost 

a strong afiection towards Schleiennacher's personality, and 
an admiration for his leading disciples, De Wette, Liicke, Rothe, 
Domer ; all of whom have had distinguished merits, little afiected 
by the philosophy of their master.' Life of Catherine Winkworth, 
vol. i. pp. 334. 344- 
1 • Distinctive Types of Christianity.' Studies, p. 22- 


room of conscience, God seeks you all the while.'^ 
At others, however, it is extended over a wider 
range. It vouchsafes visions of new truth ; it opens 
before us glimpses of diviner beauty ; it calls 
reverence higher and higher along the upward way ; 
and feeds the heart that is athirst for the Eternal. 
Describe it as a doctrine of the Spirit, and you may 
throw it into theologic form by saying that the 
indwelling God, who in Christ was the Word, is in 
us the Comforter. In this realm of mystery, God 
is for ever free ; and inasmuch as it transcends the 
customary Order of his acts, it may be called strictly 
supernatural. Possible in all men, however dim 
and intermittent, was this higher life. Constant 
was it in Jesus, whose spirit, through no better 
medium than the institutions of the Church and 
even the word upon the printed page, can yet reach 
ours, and bear it into the presence of the Father. 
In his whole conception, therefore, of religion, James 
Martineau soared beyond the range of Law, and 
earnestly repelled the charge of antisupematuralism. 
The wide range of the preacher's studies placed 
him in syjnpathy with many a lofty spirit, and 
enabled him to interpret the religion of Augustine 
and Luther, Pascal and Wesley. But this did not 
lighten the severe toils of preparation ; weariness 
sometimes wrung from him a cry for freedom to 
concentrate his powers on the philosophical field 
where he believed his true work lay. To Theodore 
Parker he makes his apology for having produced 
nothing more substantial. 

1 ' One Gospel in many Dialects ' : Studies, p. 408. 



Liverpool, April 27, 1852. 

I must take this ocuision to thank you heartily for your two 
awakening volumes, and to tell you how greedy I am for more. 
Your project of a history of Religion within the limits of the 
Caucasian race is grand and impressive ; and the distribution 
of it in your scheme appears to me to be everything that can be 
desired. There is no illusion in your impres.<sion, that throughout 
the West of Europe an atheistic mode of thought is becoming 
prevalent, and exercising a most disorganising influence : — I do 
not mean politically, for it rather favours than otherwise the 
estabUshment of military despotisms, having faith only in force ; 
— but morally, in every department of life where only Conscience 
can rule. Bunsen, I understand, avows his impression that 
never, since the break-up of Paganism in Rome under the Empire, 
has there been anything like the utter alienation from all moral 
as well as religious faith now prevalent in the upper walks of 
English society. From all that I have observed or can learn, 
I should say the same of the Continent. — only substituting the 
intellectual aristocracy there for the social in England. You 
cannot render a greater service to our old world, — which abuses 
you often but loves you dearly, — than by elaborating with all 
your strength and resource the positive part of your work. 

Would that I had anything to send you that could establish 
a reciprocity between us ; or even any considerable scheme 
to announce. But my scrupulous slowness, added to the practi- 
cal pressures of earnest life, detains me among the small things 
of periodical literature ; and I have no worthy proof to send you 
that I am aUve on the fleld. God bless you, dear friend, and 
send us many a blessing through you. 

Already in 1852 the possibility was in sight that 
Manchester New College might be removed to 
London.^ He himself strongly supported the pro- 
posal ; ^ but it threw his whole future connexion 
with the College into uncertainty. More than a 
year passed in anxious expectation, as one plan 
after another was produced, and failed.^ Mr. 

1 The foundation of Owens College rendered its Arts provision 
superfluous : while there were obvious advantages in some form 
of amalgamation with the recently established University Hall, 
and the neighbourhood of University College. 

» It was finally adopted on Dec, 8, 1852. 

3 Mies Susanna Winkworth, visiting at Park Nook in May, 1852, 
heard of a ' project for a College Chapel in London, extremely 


Tayler would go with the College to London ; Mr. 
Thom was withdrawing for a time from the ministry ; 
and he felt an inexpressible loneliness. Perhaps 
America might provide some sphere of Academic 
work ; ' God's time will clear many things now 
dark ; but at present I seem to see but a terrible 
and agitating future.'^ Finally, a special Committee 

private ' : and the prospect of his retirement from preaching 
after some years was also mentioned. 

1 Letter to Mr. Thom, Jan. 13, 1852, Life, i. 251. To Mr. 
Newman he wrote on Aug. 13: ' Your impressions gathered 
from a recent visit to Plas Gwynant interest me deeply. If 
Froude recovers from Spinoza, he wiU show a true greatness. 
No common mind could be seized with that infection ; and only 
a very uncommon one can recover from it. I should much like 
to know him. X often long, before I get too rusty with years, 
to be nearer the sphere of a few persons dear to me from intel- 
lectual as well as social sjonpathy, and able to animate and help 
me by thought and knowledge so much beyond my own as 
yours and his. Were I not poor, I should try to correct my 
stupidity by removing to London. But this is idle dreaming.' 
To the same friend, on Oct. 27 : ' My own wish now is decidedly 
for the amalgamation of our College and University Hall ; the 
requisite theological department being added. . . . Anyhow, 
I imagine, my occupation will be gone ; and with it any faint 
dreams I may have indulged of more systematic study, and 
more exclusively professorial duties, as life advanced.' To the 
Rev. J. J. Tayler, Nov. 20 : 'I think 1 discern traces in your 
letter of a misconception of my own personal relations to this 
whole matter. You quite mistake me, dear Friend, if you suppose 
me to nourish any ambition to be " placed at the head of an 
institution like University Hall, and combine with this ofl&ce 
professorial and ministerial functions." One or two young 
friends, — whose affection does not blind my own self-knowledge, 
— have, I believe, dreamt of such a voracious combination for 
me : but in wishing for amalgamation with the Hall, I have always 
contemplated the preservation of a Lay Principal, nor would I 
on any account undertake his duties if they were offered me. 
So with respect to ministerial functions : I am sufficiently aware 
of the feeling of our London congregations to avoid preaching 
there even occasionally, and were I residing in London I should 
unconditionally decline all solicitations to appear in their pulpits. 
The only office for which I do think I have attained some qualifi- 
cation not contingent on the latitude of Lancashire or Middlesex, 


recommended the addition in London of a Professor- 
ship of Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political 
Economy to the theological chairs, which were to 
be occupied by the Rev. J. J. Tayler (as Principal), 
and the Rev. G. Vance Smith. It was known that 
this scheme would involve considerable increase 
in the College expenditure ; and at a meeting of the 
Trustees on May 25, 1853, it was resolved to adopt 
a less costly arrangement which would dispense with 
Mr. Martineau's services altogether.^ His con- 
nexion with the College thus came to an abrupt 
close at the end of the College academic year, in 
the following June. Mr. Martineau divined the inner 
significance of the defeat of the larger plan. ' Con- 
cerned as I am,' he wrote to Mr. Thom, Jime 26, 
1853, ' to think of all the vain burthen you have 

is that of Teacher in Philosophy. And I will not deny that 
the loss of this function, after the love of it has become confirmed, 
and some ripeness for it has been laboriously reached, has much 
bitterness of disappointment in it : all the more, because I 
know that I do not deserve the distrust with which, even in 
this relation, reUgious prejudice and timidity visit me. But I 
see that my career in this direction is at an end : and my con 
solation is that, so long as you exercise a paramount influence 
over our young ministers and laymen at the most susceptible 
period of their lives, they will catch the very spirit and learn to 
love the great truths, which it seems to me of the deepest moment 
to impart." The grounds for the ' distrust ' here indicated 
are explained below, chap. XI. — Two years before he had thought 
of ofiering himself for the chair of Philosophy in the newly founded 
Owens College : and wrote to a friend (April 24, 1850), ' It has 
always been my desire to devote the freshness of life to the 
ministry, and its ripeness to philosophy. I fancy that the maxi- 
mum might be got out of me in tlus way. But the absence of 
opportunity is the veto of Providence : so I am content to work 
on according to my means.' 

1 The resolution was moved by the Rev- R. B. Aspland, then 
one of the College secretaries, and seconded by the Rev. E. 
Higginson. They had other reasons for disapproving the larger 
scheme, as the sequel showed, beside that of finance. See chap. XI 


borne, and of the doubtful promise of the future 
for our College, I believe it to be best that the real 
S57mpathies of our body should manifest themselves 
and have their way. For myself, I throw the whole 
matter off my mind, and turn back with an accepting 
heart to the sphere of duty which God determines 
to be best.' 

Others, however, were unwilling to see the College 
transferred to London without its most brilliant 
teacher. On July 9 the Inquirer called loudly 
(was it the voice of Mr. R. H. Hutton ?) for Mr. 
Martineau.^ Warning its readers that this was 
' not a theological question, or the mention of that 
name might, perhaps, be expected to rouse a divided 
feeling in our denomination,' it boldly affirmed 
that his devout philosophy had no more bearing on 
the historical verdicts dividing critical theologians 
than it had on the movements of the English and 
French fleets ; and declared that a greater mis- 

1 For this Mr. Martineau was wholly unprepared. In a letter 
to his sister, Mrs. Higginson, from Pendyfiryn, July 15, he wrote : 
' When the Trustees adopted the smaller plan .... I immedi- 
ately set myself to think how I could revise and improve my 
congregational work in Liverpool, and divide my new leisure 
between local duties and the gradual preparation of a book 
or two which I hope to get ready before I die. The reopening 
of the matter in the Inquirer has taken me altogether by surprise. 
.... I cannot expect that many of my friends will think me 
right in treating this question as entertainable at all : so much 
is there to bind me to Liverpool. Whatever be the issue, I lay 
my account for harsh judgments, and shall not complain of them. 
But I am constrained to look beyond the local horizon, and keep 
before my eye the elements of a wider view. I can truly say 
that neither interest nor ambition have the faintest voice 
with me in this matter ; so that, whatever the issue be, I am 
ready and content to set heart and hand on the labour, changed 
or unchanged, that may be given me to do. My decided expecta- 
tion is of continuance at my present post.' 


fortune could scarcely be conceived than the loss 
of the services of one ' who, in the opinion of many 
competent thinkers, has made a greater step in the 
theorj' of ethics than anyone since the time of 
Bishop Butler.'^ The victory was soon won. Mr. 
Button and Mr. J. H. Tayler (son of the Rev. J. J. 
Tayler) invited subscriptions to a special fund. 
Ere the year closed, on Dec. 29, a deputation from 
the College Committee waited on Mr. Martineau at 
Park Nook with the request that he would give a 
course on Ethics during the next six months in 
London, and on February 7, 1854, he delivered his 
inaugural lecture in University Hall.^ 


Meanwhile, the home-interests called forth mani- 
fold activities. In educating his children himself,* 
Mr. Martineau carried out a conception to which 
he more than once referred in his speeches, that the 
family life is, as it were, the unit of the moral as 
of the social order, providing in miniature just those 

1 This was the judgment of the Spectator also, after the pubUca- 
tion of the Types of Ethical Theory. 

2 Instead of the weekly visit to Manchester he paid a fortnightly 
visit to London. His arrangements finally included six lectures 
in two days, together with the journeys to and fro, which, fifty 
years ago, were not accomplished with the comfort and speed 
of the present day. — Anxiety about the conflicting claims of 
the College and his Church led him, in 1856, to give notice of 
resignation of his pastorate for the following year. In view of 
the evils of prolonging the same influence on the same spot, 
he had early prescribed to himself such a step. Under the 
urgency of his friends, the resignation was withdrawn. The 
correspondence is printed in the Life, i. 279-284. 

* Sometimes one or two friends pleaded that their daughters 
should share so exceptional a privilege. 


relations of inequality, of strength and weakness, 
age and youth, knowledge and ignorance, out of 
which all duties rise. The constant delegation of 
parental responsibility to others, in the formation 
of character and the training of mind and will, 
seemed to him little short of criminal : and while 
he recognised it with pain as a necessity for the 
working classes, no claims upon him in other direc- 
tions could induce him to practise it himself.^ 

Beside the daily lessons he found time also to 
share the recreations of his family. Here is a picture 
from the artist hand of Miss Gertrude Martineau. 

When we were children and young folks, at Park Nook, he 
used to read Scott's novels and poems aloud to us at tea, and 

1 On this subject he thus expressed himself to Mr.Newman, June 
4, 185 1 : ' I do not at all understand what, practically, are the 
proposals of the Maurice and Kingsley set of men. The great 
danger of our present tendencies appears to me to be^ lest, in 
quest of other and more economical classifications, the family 
group should be destroyed, . as the unit of Society ; and not 
the family only, but all those mixed assortments of human beings 
that are the true nurseries of excellence. The parents, instead 
of educating their children, send them to school, — all the boys 
to one place, all the girls to another ; and, when we have a 
National system of schools, will be released even from the obliga- 
tion of paying for the education, and will have the whole thing 
done for them. The rich have their houses away from the poor ; 
and the poor themselves, I fear, are in some danger of being 
drawn into Club-life by the model lodging-houses. The hospitals 
reUeve the healthy of the charge of the sick. And I observe 
that there are springing up separate organisations (benefit-clubs 
and Lyceums and schools for the difierent trades, — e.g.. Schools 
for Joiners' children, for Porters', etc.). I do not like any direction 
of effort, which widens the interval between difierent classes, 
ranks, and ages, or which despairs of old-fashioned feeling of 
Parental responsibility. I am not blind to the immense difficulty 
of attacking the evils of our large towns by a method of moral 
detail, rather than by the accumulated power of a mechanical 
organisation. But still the principle seems to me sound : and 
the reform which should set all things right with one person would 
surely be better than a reform which should set one thing right 
with a hundred persons.' 


in .that way he read us nearly all. He used to eat very little, 
but drink a great deal of tea. and whilst we satisfied our young 
appetites fully, he read aloud to us, sipping his tea meantime ; 
and we all lingered a long time round our tea-table, getting our 
work and drawing after we had done, and delighted in those 
evenings. When the tales were very exciting, he would look on 
to see how long the next chapter was, to see if he could spare time 
to read another, and would say, ' Oh well, we'll have one more ' ; 
though as we grew older, we sometimes had a wistful suspicion 
that he would sit up the longer into the night in consequence. 
How well I can see the long table still, as we all sat round it, 
and Mother at the end, with the hospitable tray and large brown 
urn in front, — and Father just round the comer of the table, 
on her right ; his book neatly poised against the sugar basin, 
at a good angle for reading without holding I and how the scenes 
of those novels are interwoven with the scene in the room ! 
He also read to us in the same way almost all Dickens's books 
as they came out in parts. But I think Scott carried oS the palm 
for interest and delight. 

Visitors came and went, for the host was ' given 
to hospitality ' ; now it was his former student, 
R. H. Hutton ; or again one or more of the Wink- 
worth sisters ; or the artist Carl Rundt from Berlin ; 
or, in memorable days at Grange, in Borrowdale, 
his late colleague F. W. Newman. ' I enjoyed an 
excellent home,' wrote the Swedish novelist, Miss 
Frederika Bremer, referring to September, 1851, 
' in the house of the noble and popular preacher, 
James Martineau. With him and his wife, — one 
of those beautiful motherly natures who, through a 
peculiar geniality of heart, is able to accomplish 
so much, and to render herself and ever5rthing that 
is good two-fold in quite another manner to that of 
the multiplication table which merely makes two and 
two into four, — with them and their family I spent 
some beautiful days amid conversation and music' ^ 

1 Inquirer, May i, 1852, from the New York Christian 
Inquirer. Mr. Martineau so admired Miss Bremer, that he began 
to learn Swedish to read her books in their original language. 


Miss Bremer had been powerfully moved by Alton 
Locke ; and Mr. Martineau under took to open her 
way to acquaintance with Kingsley, if she would first 
take counsel with Prof. Newman. In the letter 
which introduced her to his friend, he declared his 
concurrence with ' a moral resistance to the full 
swing of economic laws.' 

Gravely was he concerned over the wretchedness 
revealed in the great cities. It was the outcome, 
he declared,^ of the modem doctrine of leaving 
everything tp individual interest and self-will ; and 
he was ashamed that the National Church should 
waste large sums of money in fees to distinguished 
lawyers for discussing questions about the Fathers, 
which would be much better employed in building 
bath-houses and erecting schools. The next year 
he demanded compulsory education, and the pro- 
hibition of the sale of drink to children :^ and in 
the Prospective for February, 1851, he wrote : ' We 
fully believe that the theory of individual indepen- 
dence has been carried to a vicious extreme, and 
that the authority of the State must be extended 
over a wider range than the severity of economic 
doctrine has been willing to allow, concerning itself 
again with the houses, the hours, the education, 
the amusements, of the people.'^ It was in this 

1 At the Domestic Mission. Inquirer, January 19, 1850. 

2 At the Domestic Mission. Inquirer, February i, 185 1. 

^ ' Europe since the Reformation ' : Essays, ii. 28 1 . In the 
matter of education his views had changed since 1847, when he 
had been prepared for a secular system (ante, chap. VIII. p. 274). 
Writing to the Rev. R. L. Carpenter, Feb. 25, 1851, he commends 
the effort of a Manchester Clergyman, Mr. Richson, to secure the 
recognition of all forms of reUgion : ' This scheme has had the 


spirit that he called for the entire repejil of the beer- 
house legislation, and even invoked the example 
of antiquity (in face of the remnants of the Puritan 
spirit) to justify his advocacy of the erection of 
theatres at the public cost in every large town, 
where the best dramas of England could be repre- 
sented.^ It was his time of revolt against theoretic 
economy. ' The very science,' (he wrote to Newman, 
March 15, 1851), ' which, in one breath, professes 
its abstract distance from personal realities, in an- 
other claims the direction of law and administration ; 
and then its intellectual pride becomes political 
cruelty.' Beneath his usual calm and self-control, 
lay deeps of unsuspected passion ; and he could 
even imagine himself breaking the windows of the 
conductors of unhallowed trade. 

To Mr. R. H. Hutton. 

Liverpool, Sept. 18, 1851. 
My dear Richard, 

Your letter has come as if in answer to the longing of my 
heart. Had it not appeared, I should still have written to you, 

effect of uniting all parties in Manchester in a most unexpected 
manner. Mr. StoweU, the great Evangelical demagogue, proposes 
the allowance of the Douay Version to the Catholics : Independent 
ministers, hitherto uncompromising " voluntaries," act on the 
Committee : the High Church party move the exclusion of all 
catechisms and confessions from the teaching in new schools, 
and from the instruction of dissentient parents' children in the 
old ones.' On the same day, it happened, he wrote to Mary 
Carpenter at Bristol with warm sympathy for her Reformatory 
work, and lamented that the ' selfish stupidity ' of the local 
representatives of the Corporation thwarted the efforts of the 
excellent Liverpool stipendiary magistrate to create a similar 
school there. At the upper end of the educational scale he was 
much interested in movements within the University of London 
(with which Manchester New College was then affiliated) for 
securing a represeiitation of Professors as well as Graduates in 
its governing body. 

1 At the Domestic Mission. Inquirer, March 20, 1852. 


probably by this very post, to enclose for your reading Mr. 
Newman's criticism on your last article. ... I do not think that 
the moral limits to the application of economic doctrine could be 
more skilfully and clearly drawn : and Mr. Newman's reply does 
not in the least abate my horror of the people who can bring 
themselves to pay wages below the physical minimum. If a 
London mob were to attack Moses and his establishment, I 
fear my fingers would itch to be at the work as irresistibly as Mr. 
Solly's at sight of a Berlin Barricade. No doubt the exclusion, 
by moral rule, of starvation wages, would involve great changes 
in the management of the whole pauper question ; changes, 
however, in the right direction, tending to create a sharper 
division between the pauper and the class of dependent labourers 
than even the new Poor Law aimed to produce. But I believe 
that if this division could be made so marked as almost to con- 
stitute a separate caste, great social benefit would in the end arise. 
I fear Mr. Newman is right in what he says about the moral 
causes of suffering among the working classes ; and I do not 
wonder at his grave disapproval of Kiugsley's blind humanity, 
so far as it tends to withdraw attention from the prolific root 
of almost all the ill. 

The annual round followed from year to year its 
steady course. ' We go on without events,' he once 
wrote to his friend Newman, ' working, fearing, 
hoping, using up the present and trusting for the 
future.' The death of one sister, the alienation of 
another,^ the departure of the eldest son, the illness 
or the marriage of a daughter, — these made up the 
family chronicle. Sensitive and finely strung was 
the father upon whom all leaned. His natural 
impetuosity was not always under perfect control ; 
and if he wounded a friend's affection. Lis grief was 
deep, and his acknowledgment prompt. Swift in 
decision, he sometimes saw the advantages of a single 
course so clearly as to make it the price of his co- 
operation. Yet a certain shy habit of mind clung 
to him through life ; by temperament he knew 

I To the discriminating account of the famous Prospective 
article entitled 'Mesmeric Atheism,' May, 1851, given by Dr. 
Drummond, Life, i. pp. 220-229, nothing can be added. 


himself deficient in hopefulness ; and though in 
moments of difficulty he never lacked courage, 
and surprised his friends by the boldness of his 
proposals, he still lived, even in these years of 
growing reputation, in a certain shadow of des- 
pondency. In spite alike of this personal shyness 
and intellectual self-cor^dence, he had a craving 
for S5mipathy, which was denied to him — from 
causes already partly indicated, and hereafter to 
be more fuUy explained — just where he most desired 
it, among his brother ministers, and the reUgious 
community to which he belonged. The variety of 
his enterprises brought him into numerous relations 
with others which sometimes produced heartburnings 
and disputes. ' I have not been accustomed to 
think myself a quarrelsome man,' he wrote to New- 
man (Nov. 25, 1854), ' or to feel that my temptations 
lay much on that side : yet somehow find myself 
entangled in more than one very painful personal 
controversy. It seems not likely that this should 
be, without serious fault of my own ; yet, often 
searching, I cannot honestly say that I am able 
to perceive it. I find it impossible to express to 
you the admiration and affection which your faith- 
fulness towards C in this whole matter excites 

in me : what is he made of not to be guided by such 
tender consideration yet clear-sighted justice at 
his side ? ' 


This ethical demand breathed through all his 
judgments alike of persons and affairs. To diver- 
gencies of moral sentiment or lack of moral strength 


he was acutely sensitive. Of Arthur Hugh Clough 
he wrote to Newman (Jan. 3, 185 1), ' Much as I 
admire him, he disappoints me by his apparent 
want of earnestness and a certain air of sceptical 
indifferentism.' ' I find it possible to sympathise 
more or less with almost any faith ; but I cannot 
sympathise with wo-faith ; and the intellect and 
culture that may coexist with such negation 
affect me like fine mirrors and chimney-piece orna- 
ments in a house unfurnished and untenanted.'^ 
From his early friend, John Stuart MiU, he had 
travelled f ar : 'I have read nothing yet but Mill's 
article,' he says to the editor of the Westminster 
(from Dunoon, July 4, 1851), ' which, like everything 
he writes, is clever and masterly. Yet somehow 
I must confess that I like him better upon all other 
subjects than upon moral questions ; in his manage- 
ment of which there is something which, in a way 
that I cannot explain, repels the confidence of his 
readers, and disappoints his philosophical acuteness 
of its proper result. . . . The real grounds of 
dissent from him lie, in truth, deeper than any part 
of the question selected by him for discussion.' 

It was, again, on moral rather than theologic 
grounds that he condemned the existing condition 
of the Anglican Church.^ That Tractarians and 
Evangelicals should profess adhesion to the same 

1 Yet of Clough's poetry he expressed in later life sincere 
admiration. See chap. XV. 

1 Three brilliant articles were devoted in 1850 and 1851 to this 
and the Catholic question ; ' The Church of England,' West- 
minster, 1850 ; ' Europe since the Reformation,' Prospective, 
Feb. 1851 ; 'The Battle of the Churches,' Westminster. 1851. 
The three are all reprinted in Essays, ii. 


formularies was a scandal to him ; and not less so 
was the departure in other directions of minds 
already susceptible to changes of intellectual climate 
since the fourth or the sixteenth century. The 
protest against the casuistry of subscription which 
he had already made in the case of Arnold, was re- 
newed in vigorous terms. But he was prepared 
to recommend now a definite practical measure. 
The principle was exceedingly simple. The charter 
of the State Church was the Act of Uniformity 
of 1662. Were that once abohshed, the way 
would be open for a truly national rehgious 
Estabhshment. All sects would be justified as 
partial expressions of the national faith. Parish 
congregations should have a voice in the selection 
of their ministers, under due safeguards of intel- 
lectual and moral qualifications ; and the High 
Churchman might then practise his Catholic ritual 
within a scheme of comprehension which would find 
place also for the Methodist or the Unitarian.^ 
To these proposals he was to return in later years 

1 About the remoteness of this prospect he was under no 
illusions. To the Rev. Dr. Armstrong, of Bristol, he wrote on 
Jan. 22, 1851 : ' Your picture of a comprehensive national Church 
represents very nearly the state of things which, in my opinion, 
reforming Englishmen should aim at realising. In aspiring 
towards it we have at least the satisfaction of conscious dis- 
interestedness : for no possible comprehension, I imagine, could 

include us Beset with difficulties as both the Church and 

the Education questions are, I incline to think that the greatest 
difficulty in the way of their practical advance is the mediocrity 
of all our pubhc men. One considerable statesman, one bishop 
with a spirit like Arnold's, might now find materials in English 
sentiment for efiecting an ecclesiastical revolution, and a school 
reform, of the most beneficent kind. But neither layman nor 
divine will be found equal to the task. And the fear is, that 
we shall go on, till a Cl^tist era gives us a Secw/af-scbool and a 
JVo-cburch system.' 


(see chap. XV.). As an immediate corollary he 
joined actively in the demand for University Reform 
in 1854, 3^d, in conjunction with Mr. Thom, spoke 
at a meeting in Liverpool on its behalf.^ 

In the same spirit did he view the estabHshment 
of the Catholic hierarchy in this country. The 
fathers who had toiled for Catholic emancipation 
knew perfectly well that Roman Catholicism was 
not only a religion but a polity : and to protest 
against the appointment of bishops was to ignore 
the legitimate and necessary consequences of the 
nation's own act. The glamour which still surrounds 
the memory of John Henry Newman, will give 
interest to the following passage from a letter to 
Francis (Liverpool, Jan. 3, 1851). 

How curious that our own national affairs should hinge again 
on the old Papal question ! and how strangely must your brother 
feel himself one of the great agencies of Europe I His position, 
on looking back over the last twenty years, may well fill a mind 
like his with an overpowering enthusiasm. I heard him preach 
when I was at Birmingham in the summer. As in reading his 
writings, I was struck with the interfusion of a certain cold 
splendour with a course of thought chiefly marked by dialectic 
subtlety : and in asking myself the question, which occurs to 
every one, about his sincerity, I became more convinced than 
ever that sincerity is quite a different thing in different minds, 
varying especially with the sort of reliance they have on objective 
truth as attainable by man, and their mode of representing to 
themselves the nature of truth itself. I fully beUeve your brother 
to be as sincere as he can be, and to feel himself in possession 
of the truest that can be had. Yet when I watch the sophistical 
play of an intellect so clear and rich, and observe the constant 
tendency of logical ingenuity to exclude veracious directness 
of thought, I cannot get rid of the impression that philosophical 
scepticism underlies his religious faith : and that the demand of 
his mind is satisfied by the internal consistency of a system 
without much anxiety about its ultimate foundations and the 
reality of its supports. His Anglican lectures, — in spite of the 

^ April 25 : Speech in Inquirer, April 29. Subsequent research 
has not justified all its historical pleadings. 


evasiveness of the latter half of the volume, — fill me with admira- 
tion of his genins. Had I been at Oxford with him, X am con- 
vinced I should have gone into captivity to him ; — unless, indeed, 
you had come to the rescue. 

Severely as he condemned its sacerdotalism, re- 
probated the moral danger of its confessional, and 
contrasted the standard of English character with 
that of Rome or Naples, he nevertheless assigned 
to Catholicism a very high value, as enabling Chris- 
tianity to coexist within natural ethics. There he 
foimd a rehgion which instead of superseding and 
cancelling, rather supplemented and guided the 
native energies of the soul. There, faith adopted 
morals and purified them, and for a law of compul- 
sion below substitutes a love of God above.^ An 
Anglican visitor found this admiration result in 
tmexpected consequences. Writing from Park Nook, 
Jan. i6, 1857, Miss Catherine Winkworth reported 
her perplexity. 

After supper we got into a talk that startled me very much, 
for he was defending the Romanist doctrine of good works. 
Presently I said humbly, ' I suppose I never understood it : I 
fancied it meant that we could do things of ourselves which 
reaUy did lay God, so to speak, under an obligation to us, which 
is so utterly false.' ' WeU,' he said, ' that is what I do mean,' 
whereat I started. ' That is,' he continued, ' God has laid him- 
self under the obligation by attaching certain consequences to 
the fulfilment of his law.' ' Yes, the perfect fulfilment, but 
even the best saints must be forgiven.' ' If you suppose the 
law of God requires absolute holiness.' ' Yes, I never thought 
of beUeving anything else.' Then he went on that we Protestants 
did not honour the saints enough : and Susie said, ' But the theory 
of merit would certainly never spring from what the saints 
themselves said of their works.' ' No, of course not,' he said, 
' because of their humiUty.' ' Well,' I ventured to say, ' I always 

1 ' The Ethics of Christendom,' Studies, p. 347. The whole 
argument with its interpretation of Arnold's doctrine of the 
Church as covering all human relations, and its vindication of 
the use of force, deserves careful study. 


thought the saints knew best about that ' ; whereat Mr. Martineau 
burst into a fit of laughter. ... So then Mr. Martineau went oh 
declaring that the Romish morality was so much higher than 
the Protestant on this very ground ; and Susie stood up for the 
Protestants ; but I presently thought that Mr. Martineau didn't 
want to ' argufy,' but to be pleasant and uncontradicted, so I 
was silent, and Susie said afterwards I was recreant, but I can't 
argue, especially if I fancy that it jars on anyone. But I do 
wish I could see what Mr. Martineau meant.i 

Most strenuous of all was his persistent applica- 
tion of moral principles to politics. Profound as 
were his speculative and religious interests, he never 
detached himself from the life around him, to wrapi 
himself in them alone. As he prepares to bid adieu 
to the fells round Skelwith Bridge, he writes to New- 
man, ' These mountains after all shut one up too 
much from the great world beyond, and its murmur 
of struggling humanity ; and bring on at last an 
impatience for return to the battlefield of truth 
and right. Where news moves sluggishly, and 
arrives after date, somehow its force is spent, and 
the proper moment of our S5mipathy is gone when it 
arrives : and for myself I want to be where life is 
quicker, and men help each other to interpret the 
meaning of events as they arise.' It was late in 
the summer of 1854, and the English and French 
troops were on the way to the Crimea. When the 
day of humiliation had been appointed in the spring 
(April 25), Mr. Martineau's loyalty had been severely 
strained. ' The terms of the Queen's proclamation,' 
he wrote to Mr. Thom (April 20), ' have fairly 
brought me round to your view about the Fast-day. 
When that young lady threatens me with " the 

1 Life of Catherine Winkworth, vol. ii. p. 95. — See infra, chap. 
XII. p. 414, for an account of his devotional services, and for his 
personal sense of the 6vil of sin, p. 39$, note ^. 



wrath and indignation of Almighty God " in case 
of non-observance, I can no longer repress my spirit 
of disobedience. If the Government is to call for 
a national religious act, the appeal must be made 
to a really national feeling, and not to such miserable 
and grovelling superstition.' But there was no 
stronger advocate than he of the English cause. 
He once excused himself to Newman for being ' a 
wretched poUtician,' on the groimd of want of 
historical knowledge ; and even declared that he 
would be thankful to have no political franchise, 
and to leave the disposal of affairs to wiser heads. 
' The extreme difficulty I find in forming a decided 
opinion on subjects whose bearings are so intricate, 
and the scruples that visit me after I have fancied 
myself clear, frighten me at the responsibility of 
being a citizen at aU.'^ 

There were no such misgivings now. He had 
seen Poland finally declared a Russian province 
in 1832 ; through his mother and his sister Harriet 
he had been personally interested in some of the 
exiles ; and Russia had been ever since for him 
the impersonation of bad faith. In a striking series 
of sermons on ' National Duties,' dehvered in the 
autvunn and winter of 1854-55, he expounded the 
principles which, in his view, ought to govern 
the moral action of states. They had a personality 
of their own, with real duties to discharge, and 
trusts to protect ; and in the moral order of God's 
providence were exposed to the solemn law of retri- 
bution. In a series of letters to Newman, and m 

iTo F. W. Newman. Jan. 3, 1851. 


two articles in the National Review,'^ he made their 
concrete application to British policy. No reader 
of these two papers can fail to note the strength 
of his impeachment of Russia. He is no advocate 
of the Turk (not yet denounced as ' the unspeak- 
able ') ; but he dreads the advance of Muscovite 
aggression, and demands the restoration of Poland 
as a bulwark of European civilisation.* Like many 
noble natures, Mr. Martineau believed that a just war 
carried with it an immense moral appeal, and lifted 
the nation which waged it into a more strenuous 
and lofty life. The note struck in his speech at 
the Provincial Assembly, Liverpool, June 22, 1855, 
was repeated more than once. 

The moment that appeal is made to the common sense of 
justice to vindicate the rights of an injured nation, and to stand 
up against the hypocrisy and arrogance for what we believed 
to be the rights of law and of God, we become once more a united 
nation ; we become conscious of that which we had almost 
forgotten, that we have the pulsation of a common heart ; we 
feel a sentiment before which the petty intrigues and egotism of 
political sections disappear. Moreover, we are drawn at the same 
time into an alliance with a nation towards whom we have enter- 

1 This was established in July, 1855, as the successor to the 
Prospective. Mr. Martineau was not its editor, but he was its 
principal founder, and was chiefly instrumental in securing 
the pecuniary support with which it was started, and the remark- 
able group of writers, including afterwards Froude, W. R. Greg, 
Walter Bagehot, Matthew Arnold, R. H. Button, and others, 
who contributed to it. In the first number he published an 
article on ' International Duties and the Present Crisis,' which 
was followed next January by a second on ' Foreign PoUcy in 
1856.' The reproduction of these articles in Essays i. implies 
that after the retrospect of a generation the author remained 
unconverted to the view of his leader. Lord Salisbury, that in 
supporting Turkey England put her mioney on the wrong horse. 

2 Mr. Newman weis, as usual, the recipient of his political 
confidences. The correspondence showed how two observers, 
equally anxious to apply moral principles to political action, 
might reach difierent results. 


tained the bitterest prejudices. We find good in that nation : 
we find ourselves more closely drawn together in one interest ; 
and gradually it dawns upon us that it is committed to us as a 
duty to defend the advancing and progressive liberties of western 
civilisation against the torpid, barbaric, and crushing despotism 
which would encroach upon us from Asia.^ 

One other question had long occupied his thoughts. 
On Vienna violence or a Parisian coup cPHat he had 
cast a passing glance : American slavery had been 
a permanent pain. With his friend Dewey he had 
earnestly remonstrated in earlier years, though he 
had refused to join his brother-ministers in a general 
address of rebuke.* After the passing of the Fugitive 
Slave Law a similar difficulty arose. The Provincial 
Assembly was to meet at Altrincham, and his old 
friend Franklin Howorth sought, through his 
daughter, to obtain his support to another protest. 
To Miss Howorth, excusing himself from being 
present on the ground of London engagements, 
he sent the following reply. 

Liverpool, May 27, 185 1. 

Perhaps if circumstances allowed me to take part in the 
contemplated proceedings, the reflection needful to a deliberate 
and conscientious judgment might convince me that we ought to 
proclaim our opinion respecting the Fugitive Slaye Law. But 
I cannot honestly conceal my present impression, that such an 
expression of opinion upon a Law of the United States Congress 
by the Lancashire and Cheshire Provincial Meeting of Presby-: 
teiian Ministers, would be unadvisable. About the nature of 
the Law in question, there would be no difierence of opinion 
amongst us ; and probably none as to the obligation of resistance 
to it on all good citizens of the Free States. But there are natural 
limits to the Provincials' right of supervision over the moral 
and spiritual affairs of the world : the mere fact that we have 
strong private sentiments as to the legislative proceedings of- 
foreign nations, does not seem to me sufficient to justify the 
wisdom, of our corporate interposition. The effect of mere ad- 
monition, from bodies of men not holding the monitor's natural 
position, appears to me usually mischievous upon grown men. 

t Inquirer, June 30, 1855 2 Ante, chap. VIII. p. 255. 


I say this, with every feeling unreservedly and enthusiastically 
on the side of the resistance party in Boston. But I have observed 
that the members of this party themselves do hot relish English 
interposition on their behalf. 

"With kindest remembrances to Mr. and Mrs. Howorth, 
Ever, dear Sarah, 

Yours very afiectionately, 

James Mariineau. 

In spite of the sarcasm which he permitted him- 
self in this letter, he felt towards slavery the gravest 
moral reprobation. When Uncle Tom's Cabin was 
entrusted to the hands of the Rev. Charles Beard 
for review in the Prospective, in September, 1852, Mr. 
Martineau wrote privately to his co-editor, Mr. 
Thom, ' If you think him in danger of falling short 
of due S5mipathy with the active enemies of Slavery 
in America, you will perhaps administer a little 
spur to his zeal.' The election of President Bu- 
chanan in the autumn of 1856 filled him with the 
gravest forebodings. To the Rev. J. H. AUeiii 
of Bangor, Maine, he expressed his anxiety in 
the most emphatic terms (Dec. 30, 1856) : ' Never, 
I suppose, did the Providence of God commit to 
human hands a greater trust than is now vested 
in the citizens of your Northern States. For once, 
even local and party excitement can scarcely 
exaggerate the importance of the contest; to the 
calmest and remotest observer, no less than to the 
actor on the spot, it appears to involve, — with the 
destinies of your Continent, — the whole Future of 
Humanity.'^ The January National (1857) con- 
tained an article from the same pen on ' the Slave 

1 Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. vi., 
1903. Other extracts from these letters are derived from the 
same source. 


Empire of the West,' written, perhaps, with a more 
sustained moral passion than any of his essays. 
He might blame himself for want of historical know- 
ledge ; there is no lack of it here, in the masterly 
sketch of the changes of American slavery since the 
War of Independence. He might mistrust his 
judgment : he made a prophecy which was fulfilled 
in the spirit, if not in the letter. 

The Southern temper is impetuous and arrogcint, and can 
neither observe a reticence nor respect a limit. Two years ago, 
the boast escaped from Senator Toombs (of Georgia) that ' soon 
the master with his slaves will sit down at the foot of Bunker 
Hill Monument.' The Governor of South Carolina propounds, 
in his recent official message, the doctrine that all labour must 
again return into the hands of the slaves. The abettors of the 
Kansas iniquity make no secret of their resolve. — now that the 
spell of the Missouri line is broken, — of overrunning the whole 
North with slaves and turning the federated continent into a 
vast house of bondage. There is a Nemesis for all this insolence : 
and if it be infatuated enough to belie its own predictions, and 
attempt their realisation, the Free States will be driven to 
separate, and the splendid visions of the rest will vanish in the 
double retribution of civil and of servile war. 

This was the author's last hterary venture in the 
field of political ethics. When the crisis at length 
arrived, and civil war actually broke out, what were 
the influences which enhsted the seer in the cause 
of the South ? Among the paradoxes of opinion 
with which he was sometimes charged, none was 
stranger than this. 


UNITARIANISM : 1849-1857. 

On the morning of June 15, 1851, Dr. Vaughan, the 
Editor of the British Quarterly Review, was present 
at the service in Hope Street Church. His impres- 
sions of the minister's discourse were reproduced 
in an article in his review next August. The 
preacher was identified without difficulty ; and the 
Christian Reformer, in noticing the incident, though 
not disclosing his name, denounced, without further 
enquiry, ' this foolish sermon.'^ Mr. Martineau was 
driven in self-defence to send it to the press, and 
it was issued under the title ' The God of Revelation 
his own Interpreter.'* Judged by a casual stranger, 
unfamiliar with the habitual conceptions of the 
speaker, and ignorant of the Biblical and philosophi- 
cal studies that lay beneath them, it might appear 
one-sided and even extravagant. From one of his 
own brethren in the ministry Mr. Martineau expected 
a different treatment, and the eagerness of his con- 
demnation unheard wovmded him deeply. His 
remonstrance with the Editor for not having first 
frankly asked him ' Did you preach this thing ? ' 

» Christian Reformer, 185 1, p. 563. * Essays, iv. 473. 


drew forth a sincere expression of admiration for 
the ' gentleness and good-temper ' manifested ' under 
strong provocation to feelings and conduct of a 
different kind.'^ But the correspondence revealed a 
chasm between the traditional Unitarianism of an 
elder day, and the new form which it was assuming 
at the hands of the Liverpool teacher. Old Biblical 
conceptions were frankly set aside, and their place 
was supplied by a philosophy which, in one aspect, 
came dangerously near to sympathy with orthodoxy. 
For many years the ' Vaughan ' sermon continued 
to be a rock of offence. An important series ol 
Essays belongs to the same period, and from these 
the following t5T)e of doctrine emerges. 

The apologetics of the eighteenth century had 
striven to confirm the traditional ascriptions of the 
books of the New Testament to the writers of the 
apostoUc age : and Unitarian teaching, while 
repudiating the narratives of the miractilous con- 
ception, had accepted the Gospels as the faithful 
record of eye-witnesses of the ministry of Jesus, 
and their disciples. By slow and laborious investiga- 
tions had Mr. Martineau been compelled to abandon 
that position ; and the old authority which he once 
attached to the Bibhcal record had disappeared. 
The researches of the famous Tiibingen critics — to 
Miss Susanna Winkworth he spoke in warm praise 
of Baiu*, Zeller, and Schwegler^ — had made a deep 

^Life, j. 236. 
* May, 1852 : Life of Catherine Winkwottk, voL i. p. 344. 


impression on him ; and in an article on ' the 
Greed and Heresies of early Christianity ' (published 
in the Westminster in 1853) he expressed an almost 
unreserved adhesion to their general results.^ 

The fundamental conception of the school is well 
known. The key to the development of the Church 
lay in the conflict aroused by the plea of the Apostle 
Paul for the admission of the Gentiles to the privi- 
leges of the Gospel, without undertaking the obliga- 
tions of the Law. Two parties confronted each other, 
the Jewish Christians attaching themselves to Peter, 
and the Greeks to Paul ; and the strife was prolonged 
far beyond the life-time of the Apostles into the 
second century. On this basis the whole of the New 
Testament literature was rearranged. The ecclesi- 
astical limits of the Canon were frankly broken 
down ; and the books which bore sacred names, 
were set side by side with the Clementine Homilies, 
or the letters of Polycarp and Ignatius. The place 
of each fresh product of Christian thought was 
determined by its ' tendency.' Did it favour the 
legal and limited view of the new religion ; did it 
boldly adopt the universal conceptions of the great 
missionary to the Gentiles ; or, finally, did it exhibit 
the two principles in a harmony indicating that the 
conflict was over ? In this scheme, the First Three 
Gospels became anonymous documents — founded, no 
doubt, on earlier materials — the oldest of which, 
Matthew, did not receive its present shape till after 
135 A.p. ; while the Fourth Gospel, admittedly the 
last of all, was not known to have existed till con- 

1 Studies of Christianity, p. 249. 


siderably later. Each book was tested by its relation 
to the parties in the great contest, until at last the 
opposition died away, and lost itself, in the reconcil- 
ing conception of the Catholic Church. 

This bold reconstruction, the symmetry of which 
enhsted Mr. Martineau's architectonic S5mipathies, 
led to two important consequences. In the first 
place, the Protestant doctrine of the unity and 
consistency of the New Testament was shattered. 
It was no longer possible to maintain that the 
presentment of Christ by the apostle Paul was the 
same as that of Matthew : nor could the Hellenism 
of the Fourth Gospel be harmonised with the 
Jewish elements in the preceding Three. Within 
the limits of the Canon distinctive tjqjes of Christian 
teaching, therefore, must be recognised : and the 
denominational formula ' Unitarianism the doctrine 
of the Gospel ' was deprived of its foundation. 
To which of the three t57pical forms did it refer ? 
And secondly, the new view of the origin of the 
Evangelic narratives, the surrender of much of the 
record as unhistorical, the recognition of all kinds 
of distorting influences reshaping the witness of 
tradition, destroyed the older defences of the 
authority of Christ. 

But the avowed heresy of Mr. Martineau went 
much further. The central conception of the 
primitive church was that Jesus was the Christ or 
Messiah. In criticising the Phases of Faith of his 
friend Newman,^ the reviewer incidentally remarked: 
' It is needless to say that this term denotes no real 

1 Prospective, 1850 ; Essays, iii. 26. 


object in rerum natura, but a wholly ideal personage, 
the arbitrary product of Jewish imagination.' The 
teaching of the ' Vaughan ' sermon therefore was 
not new, though its statement was trenchant. The 
Messianic idea ' was in its very essence the iabric 
of a dream ; a landscape traced upon ihe clouds 
by the creative eye of iaith and disappointment,' 
Nay, the preacher added that ' to discuss whether 
Jesus was the Messiah, is even more unmeaning 
than the question whether John the Baptist were 
Elijah ; for Elijah was at least a person, but Messiah 
was only a conception.'^ The notion that Jesus is 
the Messiah resulted from our search for Christianity 
in the wrong place, the literal creed of the first age, 
instead of the spirit of the whole generations since ; 
' The chief Judaic error ' had been set up ' as the 
chief Christian verity.' The matured character of 
Christendom was the true witness to Jesus : he could 
not be judged by the measure of men who were 
convinced that the end of the world was at hand. 
The effect of this expectation on early Christian life, 
and its impress on early Christian literature, supplied 
the essayist with materials for many a page : he 
reprobated a 'kind of interpretation which is the 
opprobrium of English theology,' and ridiculed the 
' exegetical sleight of hand ' which would save 
Apostolic and other infallibility.® The limitations 
which this faith imposed on early Christian ethics, 
often rendered the primitive Gospel inadequate 

1 Essays, iv. 477. 

2 ' Ethics of Christendom,' Westminster, 1852 : Studies of 
Christianity, p. 325. To this he noted a most honourable excep- 
tion in Jowett's well-known volumes, ' St. Paul and his Modem 
Students/ National, Oct. 1855 : Studies of Christianity, p. 445. 


to modem needs. It reasoned from principles 
which we do not own, and was tinged with feelmgs 
which we cannot share. The merchant, the scholar, 
the statesman, the head of a family, the owner of 
an estate, were called to face anxieties and to solve 
problems which Evangelists and Apostles did not 
approach.^ Vainly, therefore, did the Christian 
Reformer appeal from the ' Vaughan ' sermon to 
the authority of Locke. ' By reasonings which 
have never been confuted and by Scriptures of 
unmistakable clearness, that great philosopher has 
proved that it is the primary article of Christianity 
that Jesus is the Messiah ; that this title is synony- 
mous with ' Son of God ' ; that it was affirmed 
not only by Chiist's direct words, but confirmed by 
miracles.'^ The attempt to confute the theologians 
of Tiibingen out of the Reasonableness of Christianity, 
seemed to Mr. Martineau a childish anachronism. 
On the one hand, his critics saw in him the destroyer 
of revealed rehgion ; on the other, he felt himself 
entangled in a ' sect enslaved to the letter of Scripture 
and tradition.' When the ' Westminster articles ' 
were condemned, he lamented his judges' ignorance 
of German, contrasted the shifty partizanship and 
the inteUectual timidity which he saw around him 
with the direct and fearless penetration of Priestley 
to the core of every subject, and deplored their 
distance from the example of a pure, ingenuous, 
and earnest mind.* 
What, then, did Mr. Martineau propose to sub- 

1 ' The Creed of Christendom,' Westminster, July^ 185 1. 
Studies of Christianity, p. 291. 

2 %SSf. P- 615. ^Life, L 232, 239, 320. 


stitute for the conceptions of Christianity which he 
had discarded as no longer tenable ? Two elements 
are clearly distinguishable in his writings of this 
date. To the first, the interpretation of the person 
of Jesus as itself a revelation, in place of a body of 
divinely attested truth, he had already long attained.^ 
But his studies in Greek and German philosophy had 
given him a firmer grasp of the Hellenistic mode of 
thought ; and while he rejected the Fourth Gospel 
as history, he welcomed it the more ardently as a 
philosophy of religion. He only denied that Jesus 
was Messiah, to affirm that he was something more. 
If there was a natural Providence, speaking through 
the world-order which the scientific intellect inter- 
preted, there was also a preternatural Providence 
through which God appealed to our perceptions of 
the inwardly good and beautiful, no less than of the 
outwardly true. It was to this sphere of creative 
art that the character of Jesus belonged.* In the 
realm of spirit God transcended the limitations he 
had imposed on his own action in the world of space ; 
there was the scene of his free spontaneity, where his 
purpose worked through human souls ; in the mind 
of Christ he presented within the hmits of our moral 
nature a complete expression of his own? If, there- 
fore, with unshrinking logic, the theologian admitted 
that he knew no general proposition which he would 
accept merely on the word of Jesus,* he restored the 
authority which was disowned for his communicated 
truth, by pointing to the significance of his person 

1 Ante, chap. VI. p. 176. 2 ' Phases of Faith/ Essays, iii. 24.! 

3 ' Vaughan ' Sermon- : Essays, iv. 4H2. 

■*■ ' Phases of Faith,' Essays, iii. 40. : , 


as the earthly type of the divine. Not only was the 
thought of God for our humanity made flesh in him : 
— so also was his thought for horse or tree embodied 
in the sphere of sense — but that thought was the 
actual counterpart of God's own nature, and Jesus 
stood forth as the moral image of the Everlasting 
Mind.^ To the Platonic realism of Mr. Martineau it 
seemed incredible that a wonder-working Messiah 
could be preferred to this august object of faith and 
reverence. The critical judgments which set Lardner 
and Paley above Baur might be uninformed, and 
those who ' had read nothing for thirty years ' 
might still retrieve lost time ; but the eye which 
rested on the product of Jewish imagination, and 
could not see the revelation of the Eternal, appeared 
stricken with incurable blindness. 

But, secondly, the divergence of view within the 
New Testament itself threw a wholly new hght 
on the phenomena of Christian history. There was 
something in Christianity more than any single 
disciple could grasp or reproduce. As it alighted 
on different minds in the first age, it was apprehended 
through different media of temperament, education, 
race : and what was clear among the Apostles and 
their successors was no less clear in the Church at 
large. The courses of Christian thought and life, 
displayed in successive centuries, were not so many 
' corruptions '* of a primitive truth : they were the 
continuous unfolding of the type originally presented 

> Once more, be it repeated, as man : ' That no higher being 
can ever appear on earth, we would not venture to affirm ' : 
• New " Phases," ' Prospective, 1853 ; Essays, iii. 60. 

» Priestley's well known term. Gp. ' The Christian Student,' 
1856, Essays, iv. si- 


by the founder, and ever realised afresh amid 
diversities of gifts and variations of character and 
circumstance. Mr. Martineau denied, therefore, 
that the rehgion was to be most clearly discerned 
at its commencement.^ It needed the whole field 
of history on which to display itself. Why should it 
be assumed that a faith is purest in its infancy ? 
Then, no less than at other periods, is it surrounded 
by human conditions, and transmitted through 
human faculties ; and time is needed to disengage 
it from the accidents of locality or nation. Show 
it, however, presiding over the vast and multitudinous 
interests of men, watching by the cradle of art, 
directing the awakening of thought, shaping new 
growths of law, and determining the destinies of 
peoples, and you transform the earthly throne of 
Christ into a heavenly image ruling the conscience 
and winning the heart. This was the mode in which 
he presented the doctrine of development.* On 
this ground did he call for an escape from partial 
views and limited sympathies, confessing that for 
the first twenty years of his ministry he himself 
had looked on the members of other denominations 
as aliens.* But the declaration that the doctrine 
of the Incarnation had a profound religious value, 
for it had guarded the Church from the delusion 
that to be divine a nature must not feel,* and had 

1 ' Creed of Chiistendom,' Studies of Christianity, p. 289. 

2 ' We admit and maintain that to the Person of Christ Chris- 
tendom- supplies an indispensable commentary ' : ' New Phases,' 
Essays, iii. 61. 

3 Speech at Huddersfield Dec, 21. 1854: Inquirer, Jan. 6. 
^ * ' Alexandria and her Schools,' Prospective, 1854 : Essays, 

ii. 328. 


kept the idea of the living union of God with 
humanity at the heart of Christian faith,— only 
begot a kind of wonder what strange thing he would 
say next, which culminated in reports that he was 
verging towards the Maurician teachings of the 
Trinity and the Atonement.^ When he pleaded at 
Norwich, on the Centenary of the foimdation of 
the Octagon Chapel, May 12, 1856, for a recognition 
of ' One Gospel in many Dialects,'^ justified the 
divisions of Christendom, and declared that we should 
cease to wish for them to disappear, he flung himself 
right athwart one of his hearers' most cherished 
convictions. For what did this demand imply ? 
That while God is one, and Truth is one, no finite 
mind can take in the whole. No one, therefore, 
might identify his own with the absolute truth. 
Denominational zeal suffered a grievous shock. 
The philosopher appUed the doctrine of the relativity 
of human knowledge to the interpretation of the 
Gospel, and the creeds of the Church. The result 
was stated with his usual directness. Even Uni- 
tarianism was only ' one of the dialects, and nothing 
more.' It was not surprising that the descendants 

>■ Letter from F. W. Nevsrman, infra, p. 394. To the Rev. 
J. H. Allen he wrote, July 15, 1853, ' The blending of the Hebrew 
and Hellenic streams of thought and faith always appears to 
me the most solemn and sublime phenomenon in Divine and 
Human history. The Unitarianism which will not let them 
blend but insists on isolating the Judaic element ; the Trini- 
tarianism which, sprung from their combination, forgets, and 
disowns its Grecian source, and pretends a pure Evangelic 
origin ; affect me painfully as a denial of the greatest and most 
manifest of Providences, and a mere vain breath of egotism' 
and ignorance against the largest of realised facts. This, 
however, may perhaps be a sentiment little shared on your side 
the wateir : as here it is regarded with disapprobation and 
alarm.' * Studies of Christianity, p. 402. 


of pious forefathers, trained in devout acceptance 
of Unitarianism as ^ the doctrine of the Gospel,' 
were puzzled and alarmed. 


In spite of the disclaimer of the Inquirer that 
there was no connexion between devout philosophy 
and the rejection of the Johannine authorship of 
the Fourth Gospel,^ the view of Christianity which 
Mr. Martineau now presented, did substantially rest 
on his critical judgments on the one part, and his 
conception of Theism on the other. The bases of 
that Theism have been already indicated, and it may 
be desirable now to sketch the form which the great 
argument received at his hands during these years. 
The main principles were laid down in an essay 
on Oersted, ' The Unity of Mind in Nature,'* and 
another on ' Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy '* ; their 
development followed in essays on Mansel and John 
Stuart Mill (1859), and the well-known articles 
'Nature and God' (i860), and 'Science, Nescience and 
Faith ' (1862),* in which latter the author entered 
the lists against Herbert Spencer. The chief theme 
of this whole group is the nature and limits of human 
knowledge, and the defence of the validity of our 
deepest ontological conceptions. With ethical theory 

1 Ante, chap. X. p. 341. ? Prospective,, i^S2 ; Essays, iii. 83. 

3 Prospective, 1853 ; Essays, iii. 439. Of this article George 
Eliot wrote, ' James Martineau transcends himself in beauty of 
imagery in the Article on Sir William Hamilton,' Aug. 18, 1853, 
George Eliot's Life, i. 310. 

* AU reproduced in Essays, iii. 


the theologian was not here concerned : its practical 
applications are again and again illustrated in his 
essays on Christianity, its teachings and history : 
he was slowly elaborating his scheme of the springs 
of action arranged in order of rank, which he had 
added to his College lectures : but while he con- 
templated the ultimate production of a book on the 
Theory of Morals his published discussions during 
this period were engaged with problems of psychology 
and metaphysics.^ The reason was twofold. The 
general course of Enghsh philosophy had given 
especial prominence to inductive enquiry ; and the 
rapid development of the physical sciences had fixed 
attention rather upon the processes of Nature and 
her groups of inter-related events, than upon the 
processes of thought within the mind and their 
testimony to imseen, but not, therefore, unknown, 
reahties, beyond the sphere of sensible experience. 
In France Auguste Comte, in England John Stuart 
Mill, had worked out a logic of scientific investigation 
which dispensed altogether with the metaphysical 
conceptions of substance or cause. A British 
philosopher, concerned with the foundations of 
religion, could not ignore this tendency. But Mr. 
Martineau had further been led, by his personal 
studies, into close contact with different phases of 
German pantheism. No thinker constructs a philo- 
sophical system in a vacuum. His thought is shaped 
in view of opposing forces ; and the plan of its fabric 

1 In a letter to Mr. J. H. Tayler (son of the Rev. J. J. Tayler) 
dated May 9. i4t5i, he defended the attempt which he was- then 
making in bis lectures to draw up a table of the springs of action 
accorduig to their natural rank of worth and authority. See 
Types of Ethical Theory, vol. ii., and chap. XVI. f ii. 


is arranged to guard it most effectively from direct 
attack, or protect it from the no less dangerous 
seductions of delusive error. The two schemes 
against which the mind of Martineau reacted, were 
the home-grown empiricism of his early years, whi ,o 
from Locke to James Mill, had undertaken to explain 
all knowledge out of sensation, and the foreign 
systems of monism, which, starting from some 
ultimate principle, endeavoured to deduce the 
universe by a method of thought. 

Of Locke and his successors he could, indeed, never 
speak without respect : and in his inaugural lecture, 
on appointment to the chair of philosophy in Man- 
chester New College, London, he did due reverence 
to the traditions of his youth, thirty years before : — 

I meet here those with whom a respect for philosophy is an 
inheritance and a necessity ; who cannot but honour a study 
conquered for them by the sagacious genius and illustrated by the 
noble truthfulness of Locke ; whose earnest meditations both 
of thought and piety have been in the companionship of the pure- 
minded Hartley ; who are not less conscious than I am myself 
of unspeakable obligations to the versatile, comprehensive, and 
guileless Priestley ; and on whose shelves you rarely miss the 
acute and thoughtful volumes of Dr. Price. When I remember 
how largely the divinity of Dr. John Taylor, of Norwich, was 
affected by the studies which belonged to him as Ethical Tutor 
at Warrington, and how closely the name of Enfield is preserved 
in conjunction with that of Brucker, and, in general, how much 
our freer theology owes to the just balance of critical research 
and speculative reflection, I feel that there are pledges in the past 
for a worthy appreciation here of philosophical pursuits, and 
am resolved not to endanger that wholesome predisposition 
by immoderate and untenable claims. At the same time there 
is danger as well as honour in belonging to a class rich in noble 
antecedents ; danger of mistaking the heritage committed to 
our trust :— of cherishing with faithful pride the particular 
judgments delivered to us froTO. the past, and letting slip the habits 
of severe activity, the fresh hopes of truth, the resolve to take a 
master's measure of the time, which saved our predecessors 
from merely repeating the symbols of an earlier age.i 

* Feb., 1854. Essays, iv. 20. 


As he set out ' to take a master's measure of the 
time,' the first question that arose concerned the 
sources of knowledge and the method of study. 
On that head he was as sound as the severest critic 
of ' German mysticism ' could desire ; ' it is with 
deliberate conviction that I profess adherence to 
the English psychological method, and build all 
my hope for philosophy on accurate self-knowledge.'^ 
It has been already shown that his answer to the 
initial problem of philosophy, ' What do I know ? ' 
turned on the distinction between sensation and 
perception, between having a feeling and knowing 
that you have it.^ Amid the long series of theories 
reviewed by Hamilton, he ranged himself with the 
brilliant teacher at Edinburgh, and declared himself 
a ' Natural Duahst.'^ He, too, maintained that in 
the act of perception the mind has immediate 
knowledge of itself within as subject, and the world 
without as object. He would listen to no pleas 
for destroying this opposition. He would not, 
with the pantheist — Hegel or Spinoza — derive both 
from some higher term, and reduce the antithesis 
to an illusion by declaring them only phases of 
an ulterior reaUty. Nor would he admit some inter- 
posing medium, capable of bridging the gap by 
mutual relation with each side — whether the Platonic 
«8i; from the realm of thought, or the mesmeric 
fluid in the physical sphere — so as to destroy the 
fundamental opposition. When the metaphysician 
declared * like only can know like,' and proceeded 

1 Ibid. Essays, iv. 30. * Ante, chap. IX. p. 304. 

s • Hamilton's Philosophy/ 1853 ; Essays, in. 462- 


to limit all knowledge to states of consciousness, 
the psychologist met him with a strenuous denial ; 
the self can know the not-self ; the world is neither, 
with the subjective idealist, to be constituted out 
ef the mind, nor is the mind, with the empirical 
idealist, to be evolved out of the world. The first 
affirmation of the ego within is that it is different 
from the scene around. If this affirmation be not 
trustworthy, truth is out of reach altogether. 
Imagination may prefer to view life as a dream, 
and suppose reality to be something quite other than 
we know ; but if so, the illusion is coherent and 
systematic. The veracity of our faculties is the 
primary assumption of Martineau's philosophy. 
He was fond of Hegel's parody of Kant, ' It cannot 
be true because we have to believe it ;^ and had no 
sympathy with philosophic doubt. 

But at this point he parted company with the 
Scotch professor. For Hamilton went on to argue 
that while perception truly reported the existence 
©f an outer world, thought could, after all, know 
nothing of it as it really was. At every step the 
mind attempts to transcend its own limitations. 
It is itself in communication by means of sight 
and touch with the scene around. But this is finite, 
yet it insists on demolishing all bounds, and declaring 
space to be infinite. It knows events in succession, 
and reckons up its days and years ; but it can endure 
neither beginning nor end, and asserts time to be 
everlasting. These, and other great ontological 
conceptions, were after aU only negative ; they 

1 ' Hamilton,' Essays, iii. 48 s ; ' Mansel,' ibid. 134. 


corresponded to nothing objectively real ; they 
resulted from the fact that we can only interpret 
our experience as it affects ourselves. In other 
words, our knowledge is relative to our own faculties ; 
the unrelated, the Absolute, we can never know. 
We can only think by setting ourselves over against 
these supposed reahties, space, time, substance, 
cause. But it does not follow that they are actually 
there. They are conditioned by our thought. The 
unconditioned is beyond our reach. 

Against the inferences drawn from this ' law of 
the conditioned ' Mr. Martineau opposed a vigorous 
resistance. The legitimacy of this reduction of the 
ultimate objects of our knowledge into a mere series 
of pictures on the walls of our ' chambers of imagery,' 
he would never admit. The ' relativity of human 
knowledge ' he indeed frankly conceded. For what 
is knowledge ? It implies a relation between knower 
and known. To treat this relation as a disqualifica- 
tion for reaching positive results is sviicidal. It 
must affect all knowledge, and does not attach only 
to that of man. It is a part of its inherent character, 
inseparable from it in the highest as in the lowest 
mind. To desire a knowledge of ' things in them- 
selves,' that is, apart from all relations, is to desire 
something which is not knowledge at all. The 
mind is not to be declared impotent because it 
caimot compass the impossible. ' To know two 
things (for example, matter and mind) only in their 
relation ought to be treated as tantamount, not to 
an ignorance of both, but to a knowledge of both ; 
if we are imacquainted with them out of relation, 
we are ignorant of them only where there is nothing 


to be known.'^ True, these great realities cannot 
he presented to the imagination in pictorial shape. 
We can form no representation of the Infinite, 
whether of Space or Time, or other mode of Being.^ 
But because imagination is baffled, thought is not 
necessarily void. The Infinite may be a clear and 
definite conception for reasoning as mathematics 
proved, though it cannot be exhibited to the ' mind's 
eye.' Nor did it deserve the opprobrious epithet 
of ' negative,' with its implication of ' non-existent.' 
Positive and negative are no doubt opposites, but 
why should they not change places ? If the infinite 
is the negative of the finite, the finite may with just 
as good reason be designated the negative of the 
infinite. The true negative of the finite is the 
indefinite, to which we know no end. It is the char- 
acter of the infinite, on the other hand, that it can 
have no end.' The objects of our knowledge, 
therefore, are not reduced to appearances, merely 
because we know them ; nor is God lowered to the 
rank of ' phenomenon ' because we recognise him 
as differenced from ourselves. In one sense, the 
whole of our interpretation of existence rests upon 
a primal act of faith, — our trust in the veracity of 
our faculties, our acceptance of what is given to us 
in thought as real and true. In another sense, the 
fabric of the world, as we conceive it alike in time 
and space, is an object of knowledge, which reaches 
from the conscious self to the ultimate source of 
both world and self, viz., God. The proposed 

1 ' Hamilton,' Essays, iii. 481. 2 ' Mansel,' Essays, iii, 137. 

3 ' Hamilton,' Essays, iii. 482 ; ' Mansel,' tbid. 137. 


delimitation of science as the realm of knowledge, 
and religion as the sphere of faith, the teacher who 
had studied the presuppositions of both, would 
not allow.^ Geometry and Physics depend on as- 
sumptions suppUed by our psychological constitution 
no less than ethics. Not more surely do we know 
the place of the North from the pointing of the needle, 
than we know that in morals extreme temptation 
mitigates guilt, and that in rehgion God is best 
revealed to the pure in heart. 


By such arguments did Martineau endeavour to 
guard his doctrine of the scope and validity of our 
faculties.* To the advancing march of science he 
was never indifferent. He took in it the keenest 
interest, and his note-books show that astronomical 
and other studies still occasionally occupied him. 
He was ready, therefore, to appreciate to the fuU 
two ideas presented from the scientific side, the 
' Unity of Mind in Nature,' elaborated by the 
Danish Oersted, and the ' Correlation of Physical 
Forces ' worked out by Mr. Grove. The former he 
welcomed as the first careful and systematic treat- 
ment of the conception that the whole Universe 
forms a single intellectual realm, and he followed 
the passage of the scientific observer, as he ' visited 
his relations,' in planet and star, with eager sym- 
pathy. He might dispute Oersted's view that the 

1 • Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 153. 

2 The doctrine of the nature and limits oi knowledge is often 
designated in modem treatises by the term ' epistemology.' 


world had been all deduced from some primary idea. 
He rejected the Platonic maxim ' God geometrise?,' 
if it was taken to mean that the heavens and the 
earth were only the result of a necessary process 
of thought. God was something more than ' uni- 
versal science in a state of self-consciousness,'^ 
an eternal reason for ever thinking aloud deductively. 
This was to ignore the true conception of Causality. 
Just as in the interpretation of ethical experience 
the judgment of conscience implied the recognition 
of an alternative, — Why this spring of action and 
not another ? — so in the relation of cause and effect 
the true question was — ^Why did this happen and 
not something else ?^ In the last resort, Causality 
is comparative or preferential. Its real notion is 
that of ' a power necessitating but not necessitated.' 
What is it that determines the one actual event 
out of a plurality of indeterminate possibilities ? 
Not a mere law of thought like that involved in the 
proposition that the square on the base of a right- 
angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares 
on the sides. Trace it back far enough, and it must 
be interpreted in Nature as it is interpreted in 
ourselves. In the exercise of our own will we are 
conscious of this power ; and this supplies the uni- 
versal rule which makes all real causation free. 
The alternatives offered by Trendelenburg^ — ' In the 
beginning was Force ' and ' In the beginning was 
Thought ' — ^were alike inadequate. The first led 

» • Oersted, Essays, iii. 114. 2 ' Hamilton,' Essays, iii. 478. 

3 In an Essay then just published (1855) ' Ueber den letzten 
Unterschied der philosophischen Systeme.' 


straight to atheism, and the second to pantheism.^ 
The true middle point is seen in Will, which is 
kindred with thought on one side and force on the 
other, and is the proper prefix to all phenomena. 
From Oersted Martineau undoubtedly derived a 
clearer and richer conception of the manifestation 
of Mind in nature. But he recoiled from a universe 
in which the human personality was only a phasie 
in the endless process of the infinite thought. He 
knew, indeed, that this view had attractions fot 
many noble minds, and had again and again allied 
itself with religion. For Augustine, Humanity had 
ethically no standing before God ; for Malebranche, 
it had intellectually no light but his ; for Tauler, 
spiritually, its only strength was to pass, exposed 
and weak, into his hand ; for Spinoza, substantively, 
it vanishes into a mode of his reality. ' Transiently, 
every religious man, it is probable, touches one or 
other of these dizzy verges of thought, where the 
spirit trembles between the supreme height and 
nothingness.'^ But the sense of duty returns ; 
the will is called anew into action ; for counsel in 
the daily walk of life the world turns to Pelagius ; 
and the latent assurance of personal faculty, and 
real freedom to use it, breaks forth again into the 
light. In some intelligible sense ethical religion 
demands that the human personality shall be 
regarded as objective to God. 

Pantheism, Martineau had said, might have nature, 
provided Theism kept morals.^ But how was this 

1 ' Oersted,' Essays, iii. z 14. 
2 ' Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 172. ^ Ante, chap. X. p. 336. 

|iii] NATURE AND GOD 379 

relation between nature and God to be conceived ? 
From this problem, too, he did not shrink. His 
dualism forbade him to treat matter merely as a 
mode of the divine thinking. His training in physics 
had early familiarised him with realities of attraction 
and repulsion (for example), which could not be 
resolved into ideas with only a logical and not a 
djmamical operation. But now the new doctrine 
of the correlation of these forces came to his aid. 
No sooner were they expended in one form than they 
reappeared in another, — Oersted and Faraday com- 
pelled electricity and magnetism to exchange effects, 
— they were convertible inter se, not many but one. 
Dr. W. B. Carpenter carried this argument to a 
higher point, and showed that the law extended 
to the vital forces ;^ while in his Human Physiology 
he conducted it to its climax in the Mental. The 
physiologist found in the ' sense of effort ' the ground 
of all our causal thought, and declared Will to be 
the ' form of Force which might be taken as the type 
of all the rest.' By its distinguished exponents, then, 
nineteenth-century science seemed to add outward 
confirmation to the inward identification of aU force 
with wiU in the reasonings of the metaphysician. 
The plea for imity involved in the ethical recognition 
of a Will transcending ours* fell into the background ; 
and physical experiment conducted to the same result 
previously reached through moral experience. The 

1 ' The Mutual Relations of the Vital and Physical Forces,' 
Philosophical Transactions^ 1850. Dr. Carpenter used to cite 
the difficulty which he had in getting this paper accepted (on the 
ground of its speculative character) as an instance of the back- 
wardness and timidity of contemporary English scientific thought. 

^ Ante, chap. IX. p. 311. 


plurality of forces — gravitation, heat, chemical 
attraction, electricity — ^was harmonised in unity ; 
a single form embraced them all ; they were phases 
of universal Mind.^ 

There, in eternal union, dwelt those august 
elements of character which formed the spiritual 
background of the divine volition, reason, benevo- 
lence, and holiness. These belonged to the very 
essence of God's own Self ; they were no products 
of his determination ; he did not create them ; 
they were beyond even his power to destroy.* 
Martineau never fully faced the metaphysical 
problem suggested by his interpretation of our 
ethical experience. Goodness in us arises through 
the constitution of our nature out of a group of 
springs of action of varying moral values. Righteous- 
ness consists in preferring the higher to the lower. 
How can such distinctions be carried up into the 
divine nature ? And if they cannot, in what sense 
can it be affirmed that God is good ? Here his 
Platonic realism assisted him. These attributes 
possessed some kind oi being, and were inherent in 
his infinity. The problem receives but a passing 
glance, as he hastens on the bold venture of explain- 
ing how we are to represent the action of the creative 
Will. ' In the supernatural sphere, indeed, — the 
communion of Spirit with Spirit, — the Divine with 
the Human, — this Personal conception of power 
meets every exigency ; because here the relation all 
depends on the free play of affection and character. 

» ' Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 159 ; cp. 115, 478. 
» ' Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 171. 

§ iii] NATURE AND GOD 381 

But the governance of Nature by Personal Volition is 
less easy to conceive, the more we are impressed by 
the inflexibility, the neutrality, the universal sweep 
of her great laws.'^ If Jesus said ' He maketh his 
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth 
rain on the just and the unjust,' are we to imagine 
God as perpetually willing the motion of the earth, 
and personally guiding each raindrop of the shower ? 
What is the ' unit of volition ' ? Does God create a 
primeval nebula, and does that act carry with it all 
the vast issues of spinning planets round a central 
sun, each with its own life-history determined step 
after step by the long series of antecedents along an 
inevitable intellectual order impressed on it from 
the beginning ? or is he for ever issuing fresh 
vohtions, so that each separate atom vibrates in 
his consciousness, and is provided just then and 
there with its particular power to attract or repel ? 
The question has innumerable forms, reaching out 
along every mode of energy into the infinite. At 
this stage, Martineau's answer took the following 

If Nature and Man are to be regarded as in any 
sense ' other ' than God, the universe cannot have 
been evolved ' out of himself.' He would be then 
both its substance and its phenomena ; the world 
would not indeed use up all his Deity, for the infinite 
realm of Spirit would still transcend it. But it 
would not be different from him ; it would be in- 
cluded in him ; and philosophical Theism, as Mar- 
tineau then interpreted it, demanded something 

i ' Nature and Gjod,' Essays, iii. 16$. 


objective to God, or it would be dissolved in one or 
other of the monistic systems of Greece and Germany. 
' Our age professes itself weary of the old mechanical 
Deism, and cries out for the Immanent and Living 
God. It is well : but even for Immanency itself, 
there must be something wherein to dwell ; and for 
Life, something whereon to act.'^ The first necessity 
is supplied by Space. The philosopher conceives it 
as co-existing and co-eternal with God, yet indepen- 
dent of him ; and it carries all the properties of 
geometry within it, which the divine Reason wiU 
for ever unfold. Such thought must be conceived 
in Time, and out of Time springs Number. But 
the stock of ontologicsd realities is not yet complete. 
There is Substance, with its correlate Attribute, 
and Cause with its attendant Effect, and these lead 
us out of a world of mere thought and quantity ; 
they involve material physical elements ; and the 
imperious call for something objective to God is 
not satisfied without the admission, in some form, of 
' the coeval existence of matter as the condition and 
medium of the Divine agency and manifestation.'* 
This primeval matter, however, was something 
very different from the matter which we know. 
There are qualities involved in the very idea of Body, 
which cannot have been conferred upon it by Creative 
Power. They are known as Primary, and include 
such attributes as triple dimension, divisibility, 
incompressibility, etc. There are others which 
cannot be thus logically deduced ; which might have 
been different had God so willed, such as smell or 

1 ' Nature and God,' £s»«yj, ii. 173. *Ibid. Essays, iii. 176. 

§ iij] NATURE AND GOD 383 

colour ;^ to them is given the designation Secondary. 
Here was the field for the Divine artist, on which he 
painted the landscape of nature, and reared the 
architecture of the skies. Yet even he could only 
embody truths of geometry which he did not ordain ; 
the builder of the universe himself, ' in realising 
the Cosmical conception, in shaping the orbits out 
of immensity and determining seasons out of eternity, 
could but follow the laws of measure, curvature, 
and proportion.'^ 

Thus, greatly daring, did Martineau translate the 
Hebrew saying ' In the beginning God created the 
heavens and the earth.' How, then, in such a 
world, in part conditioned by eternal necessities of 
thought, in part only the product of divine design, 
was the exercise of God's wiU to be presented ? 
Does each ' general law ' correspond to a ' volition ' ? 
Then God may be ' careful of the type,' while actual 
things and persons must take their chance in the 
mighty web of intricate relations, crossing and 
recrossing in a thousand harmonies of skill, but 
indifferent to the individual who comes in their 
way. Against this, however, the moral elements 
of religion, protest. If the production of character 
is the supreme end of creation, the physical order 

* The former student of the Principia included gravitation 
among these, Essays, iii. 177. Oersted and Kant had argued 
that the law of attraction, diminishing inversely as the square of 
the distance, was susceptible of a priori demonstration. Martineau 
regarded it as the invention of God, to which, with all its rational 
consequences, he was for ever faithful throughout the universe. 
Yet immediately after, he declares that there is only one scheme 
of pure physics, as there is only one geometry, for all worlds, 
independent of the Divine will. 

* ' Nature and God," Essays, iii. 178. 


must be subordinate to the ethical ; ' general laws 
are for the sake of particular beings ' ; they are not, 
indeed, withdrawn from God and turned into mere 
deputies ; they are still linked with his Person, 
though secondary in his Thought. Yet after all, 
a huge rent is made in this metaphysic tissue. For 
' living beings can hardly be conceived as simply the 
nidus of power not their own.' The teacher refuses 
to treat animals as mere automata. ' Their whole 
distinctive significance lies in their being separate 
centres of at least incipient individuahty ; and to 
represent them as only media of a Divine incarnation 
is offensive alike to science and to religion.'^ In 
them is implanted some delegated energy ; here is 
a group of natures, confined, no doubt, within 
limited range of possibilities, but dependent not on 
God's immediate will, but on gifts and endowments 
planted in a determinate constitution, and capable 
of working out their own destiny. It is with relief 
that some readers find the problem suddenly aban- 
doned. ' We have no experience enabling us to 
interpret generic acts of Will inclusive of complexity 
of relations, and a persistence in time.' It would 
seem then that the ' veracity of our faculties ' may 
mislead us. ' The difference is, perhaps, incident 
only to our point of view, and would disappear could 
we contemplate the world " under the form of 
eternity." ' Space, Matter, Force, Life, Will, Spirit, 
these are the ascending terms of existence, but in 
the successions of our experience they are not, 
after all, truly known. The world, that is, bears 

1 ' Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 81. 


another aspect to God sub specie eternitatis, and his 
knowledge is not only infinitely vaster in quantity 
than ours, but different in kind. The reality, that 
is, is not accessible to us. At this moment, as the 
theologian is in danger of wrecking his whole system 
by withdrawing its fundamental assumption, he 
passes from the philosopher's chair into the 
' cathedral of immensity ' ; and thought melts into 
devotion. ' Inasmuch as Deductive Science repre- 
sents the Order of God's intellect, Inductive Science 
the methods of his agency. Moral Science the purpose 
of his Will, the blending of their voices in one 
glorious h57mn is as certain as the Oneness of his 
nature and the symmetry of his Universe : and it 
must be a very poor Science and a very poor Religion 
that delay by discord the approach of that great 


The foregoing exposition sufficiently explains the 
singular position in which Mr. Martineau found 
himself in 1857. Chsinges were again imminent in 
the distribution of the College work. When the 
first plans for removal to London were under discus- 

1 ' Nature and God,' Essays, iii. 183. The argument condensed 
above in this. last section, is throughout directed against the 
rising claims of science in the spirit of the Positive Philosophy. 
It Twill reappear, with some qualifications, and much enrichment, 
in the Study of Religion. The intervening decades will then have 
brought a new problem on the scene in the form of evolution, 
in which the incompatibility of suffering with the benevolence 
of God will receive an emphasis before unrealised. It is signifi- 
cant of the changes of mood in successive generations that up 
to this time Martineau's writings are in no way concerned with 
this theme. But it is of course prominent in In Memoriam. 



sion in the autumn of 1852, he had written to 
Mr. Tayler concerning himself (Nov. 20)^ : — 

As it is, — curiously enough, — the fears of which I am the object 
will apparently have the effect of preserving to our churches, 
by limiting me to the ministry, whatever is thought dangerous 
and mischievous in me, and giving intensity and prominence to 
my theological tendencies ; while my philosophy, which is through- 
out safe, conservative, common-place, engaged from beginning 
to end in protecting the cathoUc principles of Morals and Faith 
against the dangers of Materialistic, Idealist, and Sceptical 
aberration, is superseded. Thus all that I contain of risk is 
preserved, and whatever of safety is thrown aside : and the 
cautious arrangement of functions I had prescribed to myself, 
is reversed by the will of others. 

The writer curiously forgot that it was his ever- 
active pen that did the mischief. Already in 1850 
Dr. Sadler had replied to the singular proposal of 
the venerated Prof. Andrews Norton, of Harvard 
University, who advocated the abandonment of 
the Unitarian name because it brought them ' into 
strange connexion with such men as Martineau 
and Fox in England.'* Vainly did the Rev. Samuel 
Bache emphasize the Messianic function of Jesus ;^ 
or the Rev. Edward Tagart strive to vindicate Locke 
from the charge of contributing to the scepticism of 

1 Ante, chap. X. p. 339^. 

* Inquirer, Feb. 9, 1850. The writings of Mr. Martineau were 
in some respects better known in New England than in this 
country. It was an American minister, the Rev. Thomas Starr 
King, who made the first collection of his essays, under the titl6 
Miscellanies, 1852. In the Christian Examiner for July, 1857, 
Mr. King published a glowing eulogium, beginning with emphatic 
reference to the struggle now to be described. In 1858 another 
American friend, the Rev. W. R. Alger, issued a second volume. 
Studies of Christianity, which contained the ' Westminster 
articles ' already expounded. 

" Lectures in Expositton of Unitarian Views of Christianity, 
185s ; Lect. iii. 


Hume.^ The champions of the traditional Unitarian 
criticism and philosophy made no impression on 
the preacher of the ' Vaughan ' sermon, or the 
essayist of the Westminster and the Prospective,. 
Meantime the leaven of fresh thought was beginning 
to work. An anonymous writer in the Inquirer, 
whose papers were honoured with its largest type, 
and headed ' communicated,' urged his co-religionists 
to escape from the trammels of the faith of their 
forefathers. Mr. Martineau took incidental occasion 
to rebuke this ' communicated scorn for eighteenth 
century Unitarianism ' :^ but in his general estimate 
of the currents around him he could not conceal 
his want of sympathy with the contemporary reten- 
tion of opinions from which he had escaped. To 
the Rev. J. H. Allen he thus expressed his de- 

Liverpool, Dec. 30, 1856. 
I am afraid my friend and neighbour, W. H. Channing, will 
give you, on his return, but a very poor account of our Unitarian 
ecclesiastical affairs ; and, what is worse, the account will be 
true. I think I can perceive that he is thoroughly disappointed 
with us and hopeless about us : perhaps, hardly allowing enough 
for the pressure of an Established Church in England, or suffi- 

1 Locke's Writings and Philosophy, Historically considered, 
1855. ' Brought up in a school in which Locke was the object 
of traditional veneration, — a veneration heightened and justified 
by reading, reflection, and experience, — I have seen with mingled 
astonishment and pain the attempts recently made to depose 
the master from his seat of honour, among those from whom 
better things were to be expected.' The writers criticised were 
Cousin, Morell, etc. ; but it is probable that Morell's reviewer in 
the Prospective, who had shared the same Collegiate training of 
admiration for Locke, was included in the number of those 
' from whom better things were to be expected.' 

2 inquirer, March 8, 1856. 

3 Compare a previous letter to the same correspondent, 1853. 
Publicattons of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. vi. 


ciently aware of the extent and depth of silent and inconspicuous 
influence exerted by our theology and our social existence, even 
on a small scale. Still his impression is essentially just. If 
you should happen to see a pamphlet called Old School and New,^ 
just published, you will see that we are crippled in our activity 
by foolish distrusts and jealousies ;^-far more deeply seated 
than your Boston divisions, because involving the whole differ- 
ence between the Priestley and the Channing religious philosophy, 
— i.e., I should say, the greatest difference to be found within 
the limits of the Christian faith at all. However, a crisis is at 
hand ; and the younger, more living and progressive element 
will either carry the mass of our churches and institutions with 
them, or will find media of action and expression of their own, 
rendering them independent of the dead conservatism which 
is rotting us all away. New sympathies, not following the old 
lines of sect, have arisen, and must re-arrange the grouping of 
our ecclesiastical world ; without necessarily doing violence to 
the older combinations, but tending gradually to supersede them. 

Events had in fact occurred, which were to bring 

the tendencies here indicated into open struggle. 

The conflict arose on occasion of a rearrangement 

1 The pamphlet was occasioned by the crisis at Manchester 
New College, described below. The anonymous author justified 
hi& title by declaring that as the differences existed, denials of 
the fact were useless : ' We try to keep the phrases out of our 
public organs ; but in our private talk we speak freely of Old 
and New Schools.' There were even distinct climates of thought 
corresponding with the latitudes of London and Lancashire. 
The writer's aim was to mediate between them, and persuade the 
champions of the Old that the theological results of the New 
were substantially the same, though reached by a different method. 
On the other hand, he was no devoted disciple of any particular 
teacher : ' There may well be extravagances of speculation, 
subtleties of moral judgment, overstrained antitheses, epigram- 
matic conceits, in the words of deep-thinking, outspoken m^ri, 
which none but themselves are concerned to defend to the letter!' 
The conclusion pointed in a direction which Mr. Martineau'is 
thought was ultimately to follow : ' It may be that after all, 
we are mistaken in our prophecy of coming success ; and that 
God will choose to lead the Protestantism of England towards 
a more reasonable and Scriptural simplicity of faith, by other 
hands than ours. To us it will matter nothing, if we but know 
that we have never distrusted an ardent love of theological truth, 
that we have never discouraged a genuine manifestation of 
religious life, because they are other forms of truth and light 
than .those preserved in the traditions of the Fathers.' 


of the work of the College consequent on the resig- 
nation of the Rev. G. Vance Smith. At the annual 
meeting of the Trustees held on January 22, 1857, 
it was left with the Committee then elected for the 
ensuing year to make what appointment they 
thought fit. On Jan. 30 they requested Mr. Tayler 
and Mr. Martineau to undertake the whole of the 
instruction in theology and philosophy, with a 
supplemental provision for the teaching of Hebrew. 
To this invitation the two colleagues responded : 
Mr. Martineau convinced (as in 1853) that ' the 
service of a whole denomination of Churches is a 
higher claim than the service of any one society.'^ 
resigned his pastorate at Hope Street ; and his 
resignation was sorrowfully accepted.^ On March 
12 a revised scheme of studies was approved by the 
Committee,* and a special report of the new plans 
was afterwards circulated among the Trustees. 

In the meantime other steps had been taken. 
The Rev. R. Brook Aspland, one of the Secretaries 
of the College, disapproving of the proposed arrange- 
ments, had resigned,* the Rev. Charles Beard being 
appointed in his place. After the meeting on March 
12, Mr. Martineau learned to his consternation 
that a protest against his appointment, signed by 
seventy Trustees, had been received by the Com- 
mittee, and ordered to be entered on its Minutes. 
This seemed to him to stamp it with some kind of 
official sanction. He felt it impossible to enter on 

1 Letter to Mrs. Higginson, July 15, 1853, cp. ante, p. 3411. 

2 Inquirer, Feb. 28. See the letters in the Inquirer, April 11. 

' Inquire, Match 14. 

* Christian Reformer, 1857, p. 190; Inquirer, March 7. 


his work in London under any slur of suspicion 
or mistrust. An agitated correspondence ensued,^ 
and against the advice of more cautious friends 
he demanded a general meeting of the Trustees, 
to vindicate or to reject him.* His private letters 
show him in another light than that of the philo- 
sophic theologian. Here are unexampled skill in 
stating his case ; clearness in disentangling alter- 
native possibilities ; force for meeting objections ; 
prevision against difficulties, and outlook over 
expected attack ; fertility in suggestion ; courage 
in fii-mly advocating a bold policy. The moral 
strength of his appeal for support prevailed. On 
April i6 the decisive meeting was held. A larger 
number of Trustees than had ever before assembled, 
was gathered within the noble old centre of Lanca- 
shire Presbyterianism, Cross Street Chapel, Man- 
chester. By a majority of 113 to 17 the proceedings 
of the Committee were upheld.^ 

1 At first, what he called ' the Septuagint version of the trans- 
action ' drew from him a proposal of immediate retirement : 
letter to Mr. Thom, March 17. 

2 His letter to the Chairman of the Committee, the Rev. W. 
Gaskell, was pubhshed in the Inquirer, April ii. 

8 141 Trustees were present at some part of the proceedings, 
which occupied several hours. The objections to the appoint- 
ments were in part directed against the fact that both the Pro- 
fessors belonged to the same school of thought — their style was 
mystical and obscure — they disparaged historical evidences 
and relied on the inward light — there was a danger of over- 
weighting the curriculum with metaphysics : and in part against 
Mr. Martineau, on the ground that his cast of mind was that 
of the advocate rather than the judge, and his changes of opinion 
sprang from an inherent intellectual love of novelty. The 
' Vaughan ' sermon was not forgotten, Christian Reformer, p. 381. 
Much weight was deservedly attached to the speeche.s of the Rev. 
J. H. Thom, and of Mr. E^win Field, the eminent solicitor, 
who had guided the English Presbyterian Union through the 


Twenty years afterwards the struggle was thus 
described in the peaceful light of memory : — 

Without stirring the embers of extinct or dying controversial 
fires, I may mention, as an expressive characteristic of the time, 
that this larger trust was not committed to me without strenuous 
resistance. The appointment rested with the College Committee. 
After it had been quietly completed, and I had resigned my 
congregational charge, and sold my house in the Prince's Park, 
I was served with a formidable Protest against the appointment, 
signed by a large number of respected and more or less influential 
persons. The plea which they urged was mainly theological ; 
^^that Mr. Tayler and I both belonged to the same modem school 
of religious thought and historical criticism ; and that, in deference 
to the opinions of many of the Trustees, one chair should have 
been reserved for a representative of the older theology. Among 
the signatories of this document were many of my expected 
neighbours and oldest friends in London ; so that it opened to 
me the painful prospect of planting my home where I was un- 
welcome, and of doing my work under the eye of a censorship 
far from impartial. Deeming it essential to test the real strength 
of the opposition, I begged the Committee to convene a Special 
Meeting of the Trustees and take the sense of the Constituency 
on the recent proceedings. The appeal resulting in a resolution 
of- approval, carried by a majority of about 7 to i, I was enabled 
to dismiss the fear that I was entering on a false position, and to 
trust to time to wear away the misgivings of the Protesters. 
Their confidence and goodwill gradually returned : and even their 
extreme representative who, in the heat of discussion, had been 
betrayed into personal accusations of selfish intrigue, lived 
to retract them, and to resume the friendly relations of earlier 
years. Some colour was given to unfavourable suspicions by 
the simultaneous engagement of my son with myself : and cynical 
observers could not be expected to believe that the two appoint- 
ments were independent of each other. Yet so it was. I had 
strongly recommended another scholar for the Hebrew Lecture- 
ship. And it was Professor Ewald who, when consulted by Mr. 
Tayler, spontaneously mentioned Russell as at once the fittest 

difficulties of the Dissenters' Chapels Act. Mr. Field avowed 
himself a Priestleyan, but warmly supported the Committee — 
Mr. Martineau's mood may be gathered from a few words in a 
letter of February to the Rev. T. E. Poynting : ' As to critics 
and opponents, they sometimes sadden but never provoke or much 
disturb me. They say what seems to them true, and I look upon 
them as honest, though uncongenial, natural facts. Indeed I 
feel that there is but too much truth in some of their reproaches, 
and cannot wonder at their utterance.' 


and most accessible person he could suggest. It would have been 
a contemptible slavery to appearances, had I interposed to 
prevent this commendation from producing its legitimate effect. 
The new arrangements, once left to the test of experience, worked 
in a most satisfactory way : nor in the history of the College 
can I think of any period, marked by more harmonious and 
effective industry, or animated by a higher spirit, than the remain- 
ing years of Mr. Tayler's life. 

Among the letters which reached Mr. Martineau 
after the critical meeting, none moved him more 
than an address from old students, ministers and 
la5mien alike, prepared and signed before the actual 
debate. In his reply (April 24) Mr. Martineau 
expressed his new hopes.^ 

Time alone can show whether I delude myself with the hope of 
better realising my own conception under the new conditions 
of daily devotion to my academic work, and the constant counsel 
and sjrmpathy of my accomplished senior colleague. But thus 
far, the only credit I can take to myself as a Teacher is, for an 
honest desire to be always just to the sentiments of others, and 
ingenuous in the statement of my own ; to respect the independent 
working of the student's mind, and never transgress the limit 
that separates guidance from dictation ; to conceal no difficulty, 
to shelter no fiction, but encourage a simple reverential trust in 
whatever God has made real or has set forth as true and good. 

Hitherto it has not devolved upon me to conduct any portion 
of the special studies for the Christian ministry. Henceforth it 
will be otherwise. And no change could be more congenial 
to my deepest faith and affection, than that which enables me 
to enter the sacred circle of Christian doctrine, and to share 
more directly in sending forth faithful men, well furnished as 
preachers of Christ's holy Gospel, and pioneers of his heavenly 

From another side came criticism of a different 
kind from that to which its subject had been recently 
exposed. The friendship between James Martineau 
and F. W. Newman begot the following letters. 

1 In publishing it, the Christian Reformer added, p. 387, ' Few 
will be more rejoiced than ourselves if his Professorial career 
henceforth fulfils his present purposes.' 


F. W. Newman to James Martineau. 

7, Park Village East [London], 

My dear Martineau, — ^^ ^°' ■"■ ^' " 

Perhaps you are already pulling up your peg- tents ; 
rather a heart-breaking work, especially to those who 
so love beauty and have surrounded themselves within 
doors with so much. You need, dear friend, a broad and 
fruitful field in London to recompense you for the great, 
the very great sacrifices you must make in parting from 
all that you have loved in Liverpool. I have felt this 
so deeply, that I have never known exactly how to 
wish that you might come to London : and indeed 
this place, so emphatically dissipated (that is, mente 
dissipata, distrada), does not prize its great minds 
so much as smaller places would. I have lately heard 
of Mr. Tagart's retirement, and cannot help auguring 
that this will shortly lead to new demands upon your 

Beloved friend, you know that great expectations are 
formed of you. It is hard, most hard, not to let this 
draw you into great intellectual effort, from which I fear 
much. For your Uterary lecturing of course I have no 
word of dissuasion. But let me assure you that in your 
preaching there is superfluous intellectual effort. It 
would be spiritually more effective if there were far less 
perfection of Uterary beauty and less condensation of 
refined thought and imaginative metaphor. I hear 
again and again from intellectual persons the complaint, 
that the effort to follow your meaning is too great, and 
impairs both the pleasure and profit of listening to you. 
I myself am conscious that wonder and admiration of 
your talent is apt to absorb and stifle the properly 
spiritual influence : and when I read your sermons, 
I often pause so long on single sentences, as to be fully 
aware that I could have got little good from hearing 
them. I know that no two men's nature is the same, 


and habit is a second nature. Do not imagine that I 
wish you not to be yourself. (There is no danger of 
that). But I am sure that by cultivating more of what 
the French call ' abandon ' — by preparing with less 
intellectual effort for each separate sermon — though of 
course not with less devotional piupose — and by letting 
your immediate impulse have a large play, in comparison 
with your previous study, there will be less danger of 
overworking your mind, and fuller effect on those who 
are to benefit. 

I hear strange reports, which move me altemateyl 
with contempt and mysterious fear, that you are closely 
approximating to Maurice, both as to the Divinity of 
Christ and as to the Atonement. The persons who say 
it, agree on the whole nearer with me than with any one 
else I can name to you, and have certainly no theological 
enmity to you. This makes me say : how obscure 
Martineau must be, if such persons can so mistake ! 
Of one thing I am certain, that your heart and soul are 
so given to God, and so enlightened as to what is true 
goodness, that (whatever theories most commend 
themselves to you) nothing wiU make me trust and love 
you less, nothing wiU make you cease to bear tenderly 
and kindly with my scepticisms. But I confess, I am 
made anxious as to the results on the minds of others 
which aU confusion of thought produces ; and I think 
there must be somewhere great confusion, when you 
are thought to be preparing pupils for a renewed 
Trinitarianism and Atonement. . . . 

I want to cultivate, if I knew how, rather more free 
spiritual commimication with those who supremdy love 
God as the Good One, and who will bear with me. I much 
need this, if I could get it. But however shut up I may 
seem, beUeve that a fire of love for you bums in my 
heart. With warm regards to Mrs. Martineau, 

Your affectionate Friend, 

F. W. Newman. 


James Martineau to F. W. Newman. 

Liverpool, June 15, 1857. 

My dear Newman, — 

Ever since the receipt of your delightful letter, its 
words have been with me to assuage a spirit often faint. 
But I have been so knocked about, in Somersetshire, 
London, and Yorkshire, that I could only muse on it 
amid railway noise, and wait for this first leisure moment 
to reply. . . 

Frighten me not, dear friend, by assuring me that some 
great thing is expected of me in London ; even though 
the hint supplies an occasion for your wise and loving 
counsels. I look on my removal rather as a contraction 
than as an expansion of my sphere. I come to realise 
Plato's picture of the lover of wisdom, and ' teach a few 
boys in a corner,' with only the additional hope of quietly 
maturing a volume or two that may survive me. No 
more public function is in contemplation for me, least of 
all in connexion with any regular London congregation 
of Unitarians. Between them and me — ^partly, no 
doubt, from the faults you so truly indicate — there is 
little sympathy ; I could never supply their wants : 
and they would never jdeld me that response without 
which the teacher's heart and hope must die. But, be 
assured, my want of accord with them is spiritual, not 
doctrinal ; and the story of my leanings to Trinitarian- 
ism and the Atonement is a fiction of theological gossips. 
It can be founded on nothing but that National article 
respecting ' Newman, Coleridge, and Carlyle ' ; for 
nowhere else have I touched upon these subjects for 
many a year.^ The only change of which I am con- 

•• The article on ' Mediatorial. Religion,' National, 1856, was 
apparently forgotten. A reader, unaccustomed to Mr. Marr 
tineau's language, might easily misunderstand the declaration 
that ' mediatorial religion is imperishable, and imperishably 
identified with Christianity,' Studies of Christianity, p. 176, 
The estimate of his former pupil, Miss Catherine Winkworth 
an earnest Anglican, is not here inapposite. To Mr. Edward 


scious as in progress within me, is an increasing tendency 
towards the Hellenic Realism — a tendency fostered by 
the study of Plato and St. Paul. Doubtless this philo- 
sophic change enables one to interpret with a more 
apprehensive sympathy the types and development of 
doctrine in the Christian Chvirch. They are no longer 
to me the mere nonsense, absurdity, and contradiction 
they once appeared. But this equally holds of Bud- 
dhism, Spinozism, and some half-dozen foreign sjretems, 
which have come to speak intelligibly, but still not 
truthfully, to me. I fear this very change, which opens 
the way into other ages, hinders access to our own. At 
least in England a Platonic or a Pauline dialect seems 
doomed to remain an unknown tongue. To this, much 
more than to any excess of thought in what I preach, 
do I attribute the complaint of obscurity ; for I find on 
the one hand very intellectual people whom I annoy and 
puzzle, and very simple people who follow me without 
strain. But I know not how it is : my wiU seems to 
have no voice or power in regard to what I prepare for 
preaching. I wish always precisely what you wish for 
me. But without a movement of the spirit I cannot 
write at all ; and when the movement is there, it seems 
to exclude all alternative, and to produce just what 

Herford she wrote (Nov. 5, 1856) : ' What I admire in him is 
his religious philosophy, as far as I understand it. his absolute 
fearless truth, his singular power of appreciating other people's 
stand-point, and his deep conviction of the evil of sin. This last, 
especially, is utterly imlike anything I have ever seen in other 
Unitarians, whose e«isy way of getting over the difficulty in general 
by a few moments of not over-sharp repentance, and a forgiveness 
that really deserves no better name than good-nature, is to me 
one of the worst parts of their system. In this, as in many other 
points of his philosophy, I always feel as though Mr. Martineau 
were wholly out of his place among them.' A few days later the 
same writer declared him ' far nearer in faith and experience 
to the Church. He seems to have so deep a longing for Church- 
communion, too, that I fancy he always feels rather exiled in 
his present position. But then comes in his great unbelief about 
the Scriptures to prevent him from changing.' Life of Catherine 
Winkworth, vol. ii. pp. 82, 84. 


actually comes. It is otherwise with mere literary 
lecturing ; but in regard to preaching, this f ataUty seems 
beyond control. Sometimes I indulge the hope of being 
yet shaken out of my cloud by the intercourses of a 
London life, and chiefly with you, dear friend, so near 
to me in reUgious sympathy, so generous and quickening 
with your intellectual wealth. Here I have lived vir- 
tually alone ; and have doubtless contracted morbid 
and metaphysic ways. . . . With our united 
warmest regards, ever, dear friend. 

Affectionately yours, 

James Martineau. 

In February Mr. Martineau had written to his 
congregation announcing his acceptance of the 
London chair. 

Gam does not tempt me, for I go to a poorer life ; or Anibition, 
for I retire to a less conspicuous ; or Ease, for I commit myself 
to unsparing labour. And of the unbounded freedom and con- 
fidence so nobly vouchsafed to me here, it is no secret that I 
must expect less, even though I should deserve it more. But 
none of these things move me from the feeling that the work 
proposed to me is, of all the offices of life, that which I can best 
fulfil ; and that in being humanly ofiered, it is also Providentially 

At length the hour of farewell arrived. Mr. 
Thorn was absent from Liverpool, and the two 
friends interchanged confidences by letter.^ From 
the congregation came one of Roskell's best watches, 
and a purse of seven hundred guineas. Private 
letters and affecting addresses flowed in f they 
could not stay the approach of the 2nd of August, 
the day fixed for the ' Parting Words.' For the 

^Life, i. 330, 331. 

8 One came from the Renshaw Street Chapel, with which Mr. 
Martineau had many ties of personal friendship and public 
work. Speaking of the two religious societies, he once said, 
' They are one congregation, which, for purposes of convenience, 
meets in two places.' 


last time did the pastor of Hope Street Church 
speak to the worshippers, some of whom still re- 
membered the opening of his ministry a quarter of 
a century before. They imderstood him without 
misgiving when he once more expounded the secret 
of his toil and trust, ' the Living Union of God with 
our Humanity.' They knew what he meant when 
he dwelt on the urgency with which he had aspired 
to rise with them out of a religion of obedience into 
a religion of communion. They had learned with him 
to dismiss all fear respecting the issues of enlarging 
knowledge, scientific or historical. They could 
interpret his explanation of ' an estimate perhapS 
too low of all disciplinarian methods for the ad- 
ministration of Churches, for the propagation of 
personal influence, and the voluntary management 
of Christian men.' They comprehended his recital of 
the blessings from which nothing but an importunate 
summons of duty could have called him away. If any 
had ever doubted it before, this time they knew that 
they listened to utterance wrung from his inmost soul. 

And now, dear friends, the last word must come. It is human 
to wish not to be forgot. Yet believe me, to be lost from your 
memory emd die away by the dawn of what is higher, is my inmost 
desire. Could I ieas indeed that, hereafter, heedless change and 
fading reverence might betray you into lower mood ; that instead 
of taking up the beauty of this place and the affluence of your 
opportunities as the simple organ of expression for your own 
piety, you might degrade them into a mechanism for ' attraction,' 
the rhetoric of a sect canvassing the world ; — that not real inner 
worship for yourselves, but side persuasion to others, inight here 
give the tone to the hours, — then it would indeed be bitter to 
be thus forgot. But for the rest, the sooner and further a greater 
ajid holier spirit snatches you away, and leaves these years 
enshadowed and traceless in the past, the intenser will be my joy 
that my work has reached its end, that I am poured out and lost 
on the offering of your faith, and that the sacrifice is accepted 
and complete. And so may the Lord perfect you in his Grace 
and glory ! 



The London life upon which Mr. Martineau now 
entered, was no less strenuous than that to which 
he had said farewell. He made his home near the 
College to which he had given himself, and exchanged 
the verdure and breezes of Prince's Park for the 
' unlovely street.'^ A small study lined with stately 
bookcases was the scene of his own work, where his 
favourite authors, clad in morocco and gold, looked 
out upon him from behind their glass doors. To this 
house he welcomed many a country friend, with 
affectionate hospitality. He loved the social inter- 
ests which, as he said to Mr. Gaskell, ' warm up the 
reputed coldness of this great metropolis.' Yet 
the baffling distances often curtailed his oppor- 
tunities : ' I am always deploring this diameter 
of London,' he wrote to Miss Cobbe (1868), ' which 
keeps Brompton and Bloomsbury in a state of such 
unnatural estrangement. I think of nothing worthy 
of much care without wishing I could know your 
thoughts upon it, and yet, from the very crowd 
in which I am, I have to live alone.' 

1 Gordon Street. The College was housed in University Hall, 
Gordon Sijuare. 

400 LIFE IN LONDON [CH. xii 


To the spiritual influences around him he W£is 
acutely sensitive. It was inevitable that the change 
which had transferred him from the pulpit to the 
pew, should leave some longings unsatisfied, in 
cutting off the means of self-expression afforded 
him by the conduct of pubhc worship. To Mr. 
Thom he told the secret of his heart, as he thanked 
him for the gift of three sermons. 

London, Dec. 5, 185/. 
If, on turning from your ideal of a Church to the image of our 
actual congregations and the tjrpe of person prevailingly com- 
posing them, a cMU of fear and unbelief comes over me, I rebuke 
it -with the thought that in all of us the outer life, which alone 
we see in each other, looks out of keeping with the inner that 
turns to God ; yet often only hides without excluding it. And 
so far as there may really be a secular or mere ethical blindness 
on the eye of our people, only the Christ-like word of faith can 
ever av^ to make the scales drop ofi, and permit God's light to 
enter. But it is sometimes difficult in our chapels to realise any 
supporting consciousness of sympathy and to find the aspiring 
flame with which one's own spirit springs to mingle. As preacher 
I used to feel this not a little ; and now, as hearer in the midst 
of others (whose aspect and natural language cannot but press 
upon one's heart) I feel it still more : and often fear that the 
spirit of true Christian worship and communion has yet to be 
created among us. 

This difficulty was least felt under the ministry 
of Dr. Sadler at Rossljm HUl Chapel, Hampstead. 
Thither, Stmday by Sunday, the family repaired, 
blythely traversing in all weathers more than 
tturee miles of London street and road on foot : 
there he enjoyed the privilege ' of total change of 
place and of posture of mind in the services of 
reUgion ' ; £ind there, as he said afterwards,^ ' his 
conception of what Christian worship ought to be 

' Speech at the opening of the new chapel, June, 1862. 


was more nearly realised than in any other place 
which it had been his happiness to attend.' 

In his College work (the distinctive features of 
which will be described hereafter) he felt that the long- 
desired opportunity was come.^ To the Principal, 
the Rev. J. J. Tayler, ever since his entry into the 
circle of Lancashire ministers, he had been bound by 
close ties of affection and reverence ; and these 
had been enriched by many years of partnership 
in teaching. Summer after summer the two friends 
exchanged a long letter of College confidences, 
or genial comments on affairs.* The three months' 
academic vacation doubled the welcome period of 
annual flight to the mountains or the sea. Cornwall, 
Wales, ^ Ireland, Scotland, must each have their 
turn, though North Britain finally drew him year 
by year. In Arran, epitome of so many interests 
for the disciple of nature, he resumed in i860 his 
studies in field geology.* The gift of a fishing-rod 
led him to try the angler's craft ; but he looked with 
jealousy on its vacant hours, laughingly demanded 

1 An important series of articles on Comte, Mill, Bain, Plato, 
and Schleiermacher, appeared in the National in 1858-60. 

2 See the letters of Mr. Tayler, edited by Mr. Thorn, and Dr. 
Martineau's Life, i. 

3 At Penmaenmawr he met Mr. Gladstone. A volume of 
Newman's University Sermons was lying on his table when the 
statesman happened to call. The conversation which arose out 

, of it convinced him that on this side Mr. Gladstone was past hope. 
' Yet at that time,' he said more than thirty years later (1896), ' I 

> looked up to him so much as to make me eager to yield assent to 
his deUberate judgments.' But he used to relate the epigram 
ascribed in Liverpool to his father, ' There is no doubt as to 
his ability. I wish I could be as sure of his stability.' Compare 
the estimate in the Life, i. 437. 

* Occasionally he attended the annual Parliament of science 
held by the British Association. 


402 LIFE IN LONDON [ch. xn 

' an appointment with the fish ' as a condition of 
the sport, and at length (as he wrote to his friend 
Gaskell in 1873) 'to avoid the shame of further 
failures,' he left his fishing-rod in London. One 
memorable visit was paid to Switzerland (1866). 
After several weeks' stay at the 'Eagle's Nest,'^ 
he set out with his wife and two daughters on 
what turned (for Mrs. Martineau's convenience) 
into a walking tour : ' by arranging moderate 
stages and proper pauses,' he wrote to Mr. Newman, 
* we foimd it practicable to do everything (except 
on the high roads) in this way : we seldom slept 
at a lower level than 5,000 feet, and at times were 
nearly double that height. ... I was astonished 
to find myself so accurately reinstated in the impres- 
sions of more than forty years ago, as if there were 
but a day between.' 


The members of the ' household of faith ' in 
London received the Liverpool teacher with a warmth 
and goodwill which surprised him. When he re- 
visited his old friends, he dwelt gratefully on the 
' imqualified kindness ' which he had experienced 
from every one.* In May, 1858, he conducted the 
service at the Annual Meeting of the Unitarian 
Association, and began sl long series of punctual 
attendances at anniversaries which he regarded 
as a kind of painful necessity.^ His fidelity of 

' A chalet above Sixt, placed at his disposal by Mr. Wills. 

2 Speech at Hope St. soiree, Dec. 31, 1858 ; Inquirer, Jan. 8. 

s The least approach to the spirit ot self-glorificatton filled him 
with shame. The meetings of the Domestic Mission and the 
Sunday School Association, which were unencumbered by 


personal testimony never wavered ; and the rising 
liberal movement in the Church of England, which 
was to become articulate in Essays and Reviews in 
i860, suggested many a pungent criticism. Speaking 
at Hope St., on his first visit after his resignation, 
Dec. 31, 1858, he thus described the situation^ : — 

The difficulties which we have to encounter now are very 
greatly changed from what they were forty, fifty, or sixty years 
ago. Then Unitarians stood absolutely and hopelessly alone, 
objects of general abhorrence and antipathy. Now the difficulty 
appears to be to find any person who really differs with us. 
Go into private society, travel in a railway carriage or in an 
omnibus, and when the conversation turns upon subjects of 
moraUty and religion, you will generally meet with a concurrence 
and a sympathy which are most unexpected, and which, too, 
are most provoking. Yet nevertheless, after all this agreement, 
when the company has dissolved, and each one disperses to his 
own place, no effect whatever is visible. The old arrangements, 
the old divisions of class, remain and rule exactly as before, 
and despite the agreement of everybody, you seem not the less 
to be left alone. It is sometimes said that our work is super- 
seded, that we have nothing more to do, that others have come 
up with us, and that they are taking the functions which we were 
performing out of our hands. We find within the limits of the 
Established Church itself everyone of the favourite truths upon 
which we dwelt so many years ago, put forth with not less 
emphasis than they were in our own places of worship. . . . Well, 
then, are these persons really doing our work ? If I thought they 
were, and that they did it more powerfully than we could do it, 
for my own part I would bid them God-speed, and would take 
up the words of the Apostle Paul and say, — ' Some preach Christ 
of contention, some, indeed, preach Christ even of envy and 
strife, and some also of goodwill ; but notwithstanding every 
way Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, and will rejoice.' 
So far as we are sectarians, I am quite wilUng to resign the duty 
into hands able to perform it with more real success. But is this 
f eally preaching Christ ? For my own part, I cannot acknowledge 
it. ... If men are to be at liberty to bind themselves to one church, 
while they preach the doctrines of another, to what is it to lead ?" 

dogmatic ties, were more congenial to him, and drew from him 
some of his most interesting speeches. 

1 The passage is condensed. 

* From a different point of view he said, on a similar occasion, 
Dec. 38, i860, Apropos of the Essayists and Reviewers, ' I cannot 

404 LIFE IN iONDON [ch. xii 

Yet while Mr. Martineau frankly held his place 
among the Unitarians, he was conscious of a diver- 
gence of spirit from many of his London friends, 
whose interpretation of Christianity seemed to 
him to lack spiritual depth. He longed for a general 
recognition of the profound truth which, ahke in 
philosophy and rehgion, he had striven to bring into 
prominence, that ' the Incarnation is true, not of 
Christ exclusively, but of Man universally and God 
everlastingly. He bends into the hmnan to dwell 
there, and humanity is the susceptible organ of the 
divine.'^ This was the trust which he recognised in 
Francis Newman and Miss Cobbe, and urged again 
and again as the power of worship and the source of 
life on his own people.* When Mr. Newman issued 
his Theism in 1858, Mr. Martineau welcomed the 
precious gift with joy : — ' 

How rich it is in such wisdom as only a faithful and loving and 
variously experienced mind can attain, I see already ; and from 
the rare power which your words always have upon me, — as 

withhold a heartfelt honour from these men, because I see that 
they are the only men at once able atnd willing to convert a 
stationary church into a progressive church. ... I honour them 
in spite of their retaining a position in the Church, which I do 
not profess satisfactorily to understand.' Inquirer, Jan. 12, 1861. 

1 * Tracts for Priests and People,' 1861 ; Essays, iii. 443. 

2 See, for example, the sermons at the opening of Rosslyn 
Hill Chapel, 1862, and Oakfield Road Church. Clifton. 1865 ; 
and the third of the ' Three Stages of Unitarian Theology,' 
1869 : all in Essays, iv. — The Clifton sermon arrested the attention 
of a schoolboy who strayed by accident into the ' Church,' and 
in 1 896 (as a country rector) thus recalled the incident. ' The 
quiet, the novelty, the simpUcity of the service, took hold upon 
me so that I stayed to the close. The sermon aroused my atten- 
tion, so fresh, so deep, so utterly unlike anything I had been 
accustomed to. . . . Eagerly I sought for the local print of that 
sermon. I committed it to memory. For years I valued it 

. as having stirred my mind and soul to higher realms.' Inquirer. 
May 23, 1896. 


among the few living utterances on spiritual things left to us 
in these days, — I know what is in store for my quiet hours in 
what remains at present unread. To some of the pieces a sym- 
pathetic feeling made me fly at once ; and in the lines on ' God 
in Conscience ' I find one of the most powerful statements imagin- 
able of an argument destined, I am convinced, to carry with it 
ere long every noble-minded and thoughtful doubter. There 
is no greater work to be done in this age, I do believe, than that 
in which you and Miss Cobbe are rendering foremost service ; — 
the carrying home of the simplest and highest faiths into their 
last seats in human nature, and fetching out at once their justifi- , 
cation and their meaning thence. 

On the other hand he retained towards Jesus a 
lowly reverence which these friends could no longer 
share ; and this placed him in personal (though 
not intellectual) sympathy with many of the followers 
of Mr. Maurice. Of this view a glimpse is given by 
Miss Susanna Winkworth, in a report of a long 
conversation, dated Jan. 31, 1859, to her sister 

Of course the view that he took was not that of denying, 
as many Unitarians would, the facts of human experience and 
psychology on the basis of which I argued, and agreeing quite 
with me in referring to the direct and personal action of God all 
that was good in us, but contending that Unitarianism, i.e., 
a view according to which Christ was the highest possible type 
of humanity, — a man who was made a ' partaker of the divine 
nature ' in the sense of the Theologia [Germanica] — answered at 
once to the outward facts of the life of the historical Christ, 
and to the aspirations of our nature towards a perfect humanity, 
a sympathising and self-sacrificing Deity, and a ground of human 
brotherhood. He said he believed in the union of Gk)d and man 
in Christ, the complete absorption of the human will in the divine 
wilV, so that it was ever God who spoke and acted through him ; 
but it was in the sense that the Theologia regarded this as possible. 
That in the ordinary orthodox mode of regarding the Incarnation, 
you fell into Ditheism, if not Tritheism ; the Evangelicals did the 
latter, Mr. Maurice the former. That the absolute sympathy 
of the Father with Christ answered every moral purpose that the 
hypothesis of a Second Person of the Trinity descending into 
human form would do, without the diiSculty that pressed upon 
every modification of that scheme from the impossibility of a 
divine self-consciousness residing in a human being without so 
overshadowing the human consciousness as to make temptation 

4o6 LIFE IN LONDON [CH. xii 

and pain a mockery ; then also alleging the difficulties arising 
from many express declarations of the New Testament, as weU 
as from its general tone. Altogether it came to this, that if, 
as he believed, the hypothesis of a divinely inspired and sinless 
human being fulfilled all the demands of history, reason, and 
human nature, we had no right to resort to so stupendous a 
hypothesis as that of orthodoxy, and to do so opened a door 
to no end of superstition.' 

To this conception of the communion of the spirit 
of God with man he bore constant witness, even 
though it led him into dangerous paths. When a 
burst of enthusiasm produced a great series of 
Revival meetings in Belfast, he defended the possi- 
bility of such ' awakening of the religious life ' 
on the express ground of ' faith in the action of 
the spirit of God upon humanity.'^ This was the 
faith that lay behind one after another of his College 
addresses ;' this supplied his estimate of the worth 
of every denominational effort, for only in proportion 
to its strength could missionary endeavour rise 
above sectarianism ;* and this again and again 
thrilled through the memorable words of counsel 
and exhortation which he addressed to his former 
students, as they invoked his guidance at tho 
outset of their ministerial career.^ Yet it was 
not maintained without effort. If, on the one hand, 

* Life of Catherine Winkworth, vol. ii. p. 254. 

2 At a discussion at the London District Unitarian Society. 
At the same time he carefully guarded himself from pronouncing 
any judgment on the Irish movement so far as it had then ad- 
vanced. Inquirer, Nov. 26, 1859. The Rev. R. Brook Aspland 
who followed, expressed his distrust of such abstract principles. 

3 For example, ■ The Transient and the Permanent in Theology," 
1862, Essays, iv. gy. 

* Speech at Liverpool, Dec. 28, i860 : Inquirer, Jan. 12, i86i. 

6 Thus, Rev. J. D. H. Smyth, Norwich, 1862 ; Rev. Alex. 
Gordon, Liverpool. 1863 ; Rev. J. E. Carpenter, Clifton, 1866. 


it set him in harmony with the great historic voices 

of Christendom, on the other he was sometimes 

painfully conscious that it made a jarring note 

in the rising chorus of the champions of ' positive ' 

thought. His passionate loyalty to advancing 

knowledge fiUed him with respect for the leaders 

who were daily extending its bounds, and framing 

vast new hypotheses to connect its widely scattered 

groups of fact, and when they were indifferent to 

the beliefs that he held dearest, he was conscious 

that he shivered and grew chill. In such a mood 

he once wrote to Miss Cobbe : — 

London, Nov. 18, 1868. 
You know by large experience that there can be no purer 
satisfaction for one who struggles towards the light than to find 
that the direction in which he looks sends gleams also to the com- 
panions of his search. You will not be surprised, therefore, 
that I am grateful for your words of sympathy, and strengthened 
by them. And, to own the truth, it is a strengthening which, 
from some defect of faith or hopefulness, I am apt to need. A 
tendency to excessive reverence for men of science, and indeed 
for every mind which is above me in any direction, often subdues 
me, and, when I find myself unsustained in my inmost convictions, 
depresses and afflicts me : and though I come to myself again, 
and indeed never feel tempted to surrender what I know to be 
true, whether I can justify it or not, yet the loneliness and 
separation from the people I most admire are sometimes hard 
to bear. 


On October 12, 1858, the Rev. Edward Tagart, 
Minister of Little Portland St. Chapel, died at 
Brussels on returning from a visit to the Unitarians 
of Transylvania. The bereaved congregation turned 
for aid to the two friends engaged in partnership 
of teaching in Manchester New College. On Sunday, 
February 13, 1859, Mr. Tayler and Mr. Martineau 
were present at a congregational meeting, and 


intimated their acceptance of the duties of the 
pastorate. They both laid stress on the conceptions 
of the ministry which they had been led to form 
in the active communities of the North ; both 
emphasized with a common purpose their sense of 
the need of effort for the instruction of the young, 
and the more effectual support of schools already 
commenced for the poor. Mr. Martineau spoke 
at once with sadness and with hope ; with sadness, 
because he felt himself standing in the place of an 
old friend and College companion ; with hope, 
because he regarded the ministry as the highest 
work in which a man could engage, and the feehngs 
of ardour and enthusiasm with which he entered 
on it in youth, had been in no degree chilled 
or diminished by the experience of thirty years.* 
The joint ministry, however, was not of long con- 
tinuance. In the summer vacation of i860 Mr. 
Tayler's health seemed threatened, and he retired 
from the preacher's duty. Mr. Martineau, who 
relinquished a long-cherished plan of visiting America 
rather than quit his friend's side at a crisis, assumed 
the sole charge (the evening service being suspended), 
and held it for twelve years coincidently with the 
College session. Always tenderly mindful of the 
feelings of others, he once wrote to Mrs. Tagart — 
now a second time a widow^ — ' Your words of 
Sunday S5mipathy are more to me, be assured, 

1 Christian Reformer, 1859, p. 184. The speakers had previously 
carefully ascertained that the pulpit was subject to no doctrinal 

2 She had been first married to Mr. Martineau's eldest brother, 
Thomas : ante, pp. 42, 45. 


than anything which had a louder tone of approba- 
tion. In my strange and unsought position, it 
would have been the one thing hardest to bear, 
had I felt that for you and yours I had broken, 
instead of continuing, the sacred links which hang 
upon the past.' 

The congregation at Little Portland Street Chapel 
was never large. Drawn from aU parts of London 
by interest in the preacher, came men of law and 
letters, of science and affairs, members of Parliament 
(during the session), women strong in heart and 
head ; nor were visitors from the country or from 
the United States lacking, in addition to the elder, 
members for whom the quiet sanctuary had been 
for many years a tranquil home of devotion and 
faith. The circumstances of the metropolis were 
less favourable even than those of Liverpool to the 
traditional ideal of a pastorate, but the relation 
in which Mr. Martineau stood to those who had 
habitually worshipped with him, may be gathered 
from his letters to them when they passed through 
the shadows of suffering or sorrow.^ It was not 
long before a desire was actively expressed for a 
building which should be more in harmony with 
the lofty teachings of the preacher, and a friend 
placed the sum of £1,000 in his hands to be employed 
as he might think fit for purposes of congregational 
welfare or duty. He appropriated it to the erection 
of schools, and continued Sunday by Sunday to 
ascend the tall pulpit, reared on Ionic columns, 

1 See, for instance, the letters to Mrs. S. and to Sir Charles 
Lyell published by Miss Cobbe in the Contemporary Review, 
February, 1900, pp. 180, 184. 


from which he could survey the congregation 
alike on the floor and in the three galleries around. 
Many and diverse were the impressions recorded 
by his hearers. To some, the mere sense of his 
presence as he sat, rapt in meditation, before he 
rose in the reading-desk to utter the opening sen- 
tences of devotion, was a suflicient benediction 
on days of struggle or care. Had he said nothing, 
they would still have been knit with him in prayer. 
But others sometimes foimd a chill in a liturgical 
service to which they were unused, or stumbled 
over phrases that seemed to them out-worn. The 
sympathetic noted in the face the strange union 
of sweetness and austerity ; they saw there ' the 
visible expression of a Ufe which had got every 
poor ambition under foot ' ;^ it seemed as if pure 
thought, floating through the air, had gained 
its incarnation in that head and form. But it was 
not only thought that dwelt there ; a certain 
saintly repose seemed to guard him against the 
storms of hfe, and ward off the advance of age. 
The lines might grow from year to year a httle 
deeper, the mouth more deUcate, the brow^ more 
weighty, as the soul within grew riper and tenderer ; 
but the figure was stiU erect, the head nobly poised, 
the whole man fuU of power disciplined and reserved. 
The critical found his style too cold and statuesque ; 
they declared him less kindUng than they expected.'* 

1 Mr. Moncure D. Conway, in the Index, quoted in the Inquirer, 
March 9, 1872. 

2 The outward control misled them. ' Preaching at Hope 
St. so convulses me with agitation,' he wrote to Mr. Wicksteed, 
Sept. 9, 1867, 'that I do not recover from it for weeks.' In his 
Induction Charge to Mr. Gordon, 1863, he said, ' The place where 


Others, already won by his quiet force and dignity 
in devotion, and an utterance ' marked by a 
scrupulousness that yet was always on the right 
side of refinement,' felt the eye light up, the voice 
grow in volume, and the very stature dilate, as the 
preacher unfolded his theme. Here was indeed no 
challenge against false doctrine ; and those who had 
made their way with difficulty out of past oppres- 
sions, were at first disappointed. No particular error 
of the old creed was exposed or extinguished ; no 
definite article of the new was raised aloft like a 
banner. ' I should have liked my spiritual captain,' 
wrote Miss Cobbe, recalling this mood, ' to have en- 
tered the field, and at once planted a standard beneath 
which I could take up a position.'^ But Mr. Martin- 
eau never wished to use the hour of worship for a 
challenge against the distinctive religious beliefs of 
others. It was his constant aim to reach to springs of 
life beneath them, to rise to heights of trust above 
them, where differences disappeared in a communion 
of affection and endeavour. To 'preach Christ,' as he 
understood the great word of Paul, was not to chal- 
lenge the Athanasian doctrine of the Homo-ousion, 
but ' to take the veil from what is divine in man's 
experience and bring him to the consciousness of 
real and living relations with the holiest of all.'^ 

I stand is perhaps the spot of all the world where I have most 
lived, most hoped, most loved, most sufiered.' The difficulties 
of his former flock in finding a successor, after the return of the 
Rev. W. H. Channing to America at the outbreak of the great 
war, led him seriously to ask himself ' Ought I to go back ? ' 
Letter to Mr. Thorn. Nov. 13, 1862.— Cp. the letter to Mr. Newman, 
after his resignation, j'n/ra, p. 439. 

1 Inquirer, Memorial number. 

' ' Induction Charge,' 1863 ; Essays, iv. 544. 

412 MINISTRY IN LONDON [ch. xii 

Wide was the range of experience to which appeal 
was thus made. The young were exhilarated by 
vast panoramas of thought unrolled before them 
as from some mountain height ; and the splendour 
of metaphor which others deemed too exuberant, 
only roused their imaginations to keener activity.^ 
The elder found their problems understood, their 
difficulties divined if not always surmounted, and 
their cares assuaged with a rich human S5mipathy. 
The preacher of Little Portland Street was no 
recluse, sunk in a closet-piety. He was, indeed, 
a metaphysician, but the technicalities of philosophy 
were kept in reserve, while his insight into character, 
his own rich experience, and his sympathy with 
the manifold vicissitudes of human effort and 
weakness, pain and grief, gave a poignant intensity 
to his words, which those who once entered into 
fellowship of spirit with him could never forget. 
The strenuous ethical note was never wanting. 
London, no less than Liverpool, required that its 
reUgious teachers should ' have eye and heart for 
all its moral relations, — industrial, municipal, and 

1 To this Mr. R. H. Hutton bore striking testimony at Dr. 
Martineau's retirement. ' The imaginative charm to which Dr. 
Sadler referred, did at once take hold even of boys of seventeen ; 
and I remember that many of the passages in that book [the 
Endeavours] inspired me with a kind of exaltation which made 
me walk tie streets hardly conscious that I was myself," 
Proceedings, p. 37. At about the same age the Rev. H. E. 
Dowson first heard him preach at Norwich the much debated 
sermon 'One Gospel in many Dialects ' (1856), and the image — 
' When God's truth, refracted on its entrance into our nature, 
shall emerge into the white light again, not one of these tinted 
beams can be spared ' — seized his attention, sank into memory, 
and opened afterwards new vistas of ideas. The impression of 
an Anglican lad at Clifton has been already cited, ante, p. 404?. 


national ' ;^ to enforce social trusts and maintain 
public righteousness was his duty here as well as 
there. But there was something beyond this. 
To those who listened to him steadily, he disclosed 
a path of endeavour and of trust by which they, 
too, might climb the ' upward way,' and look with 
unclouded eyes on realities which at first they could 
not discern. Instead of a dogmatist enforcing 
the articles of a creed, or a pedagogue prescribing 
rules of discipline, they found ' a companion like 
Great Heart, with whose mhid it was a joy and a 
benediction to come even for an hour into contact. 
Once more was proved the truth that to be is more 
than to do or to speak. ... It was not till those 
never to be forgotten sermons came to a sudden 
ending that we knew how much they had counted 
for in our inner lives. A window in our chamber 
was for ever closed, and like the one in the House 
called Beautiful, it " looked toward the sunrising." '^ 
To the theory of congregational devotion Mr. 
Martineau had long giveii much attention. The 

^Essays, iv. 546. 

2 Miss Cobbe, Inquirer, Memorial number. His personal 
humility seemed sometimes in strange contrast with hLs intel- 
lectual confidence, and made him pecuUarly sensitive to sympathy 
or its absence. ' Few things," he once wrote to Miss Cobbe 
(1865), ' could so relieve my self-distrusts as such concurrence 
and approval as yours : and I thank you warmly for the new 
strength your words give.' Miss Cobbe used to relate the amuse- 
ment with which she once Ustened at Lady Louisa Egerton's 
to a series of after-dinner imitations by Mr. Gladstone (then in 
his first premiership) of distinguished preachers (over thirty, 
she thought). ' But Mr. Gladstone,' said she, when he concluded, 
' you have said nothing of my pastor.' ' And who is that ? ' 
'The Rev. James Martineau.' Mr. Gladstone was silent for a 
.moment, and then said deliberately, ' There is no doubt that 
Mr. Martineau is the greatest of living thinkers.' 


bald and rationalistic simplicity which sometimes 
wounded him by its prosaic coldness, had after 
all an ethical value : it was connected (as he once 
said), with a certain lofty virtue, — ' a profound 
veracity and reahty of religion, which will never 
profess anything but what is rather within than 
beyond the truth distinctly apprehended.'^ A 
desire for a larger range of liturgical use than could 
be secured by any modification of the morning and 
evening ritual in the Anglican Prayerbook, now led 
to the preparation by Dr. Sadler of a series of services, 
published in 1862 under the title Common Prayer 
for Christian Worship. In this work Mr. Martineau 
took the keenest interest. With the sacerdotal 
religion of the English prayerbook he had no sym- 
pathy ;^ its opening confessions appeared to him 
exjiggerated — ' Surely we none of us believe, and 
Christ did not mean to teach, that human persons 
in genercd, and his disciples everywhere and always, 
are in the case of the prodigal son ' ; the repeated 
appeals to God to remember his ' promises ' implied 
that when due service had been rendered to him, 
he was pledged to confer benefits in return. This 
conception stood in sharp contrast with the Puritan 
type, which placed the essence of devotion in the 
free outpouring of affection, begotten by realising 
the relations in which he has deigned to draw us 
to hunself. Doubtless, the essential idea of Christ- 

^ Letter to the Rev. R. R. Suffield, July 13, 1870: Life ot 
R. R. Suffield, p. III. 

* See the powerful criticism in a. letter of Nov. 26, i860. Life, 
i. 381-384. Cp. a letter to Father Suffield, July 17, 1870; 
Life of R. R. Stif^ld. p. 117. 


ianity lay in ' the human consciousness of sinful 
need and the sigh for holy life ' on the one hand, 
to which came ' the divine Response for forgiveness, 
rescue, and communion ' on the other.^ But the 
note of penitence must not be struck too soon. 
And when it is sounded, it must be above all sincere. 
The poignance of exceptional remorse must not 
be imposed with perpetuEil demand on all ; repen- 
tance must blend with the chorus of praise, and be 
free from all ' taint of servile interest.' Out of 
these convictions grew two services, contributed 
to the volume as the Ninth and Tenth. By nothing 
perhaps did Mr. Martineau render more potent 
aid to the devotional culture of his household of 
faith. These services could not have been written 
save by one who was steeped in the language of 
the Bible ; yet they met the modem demand of 
veracity for minds from which the whole mediatorial 
scheme of Christianity had passed away.^ They 
were wholly independent of the phraseology of 
the Church ; but their central canticles rested on 
a profound sense of ' the order and progress of 
Divine Revelation in human history and life.' 
Voices of the Old Testament and of the New blend 
in the praise of ' the Only Holy, the First and the 
Last.' A rich glow of hallowed gladness shines 
in these songs ; the Endeavours are never wholly 
free from the secret consciousness of failure ; in 
Hours of Thought the intellect is sometimes laboriously 

* ' Nature and God." i860 ; Essays, iii. 147. 

2 The terms Mediator, Redeemer, Saviour, in relation to Christ, 
as well as prayer through him, were frankly discarded. See 
the defence of this attitude in the Life, i. 386, in a letter of 1861, 


occupied ; but a generation of worshippers who 
have breathed out their spirit in these psahns. 
have found them grow into permanent symbols 
of spiritual joy. In the same passionate piurity 
• did Fra Angelico paint his angels of adoration, 
and portray the rh5^hmic dance of the blest. 

Worship was the primary object, in Mr. Martineau's 
view, of congregational assembly ; instruction was 
secondary ; the sermon occasionally promoted both. 
Sometimes the preacher's teaching was conveyed 
in a series of discourses, as in a notable sequence 
on the Apostle Paul ;^ or, at a later date, an ex- 
position of the essential grounds and contents 
of religion. Sometimes a week-night gathering 
provided the necessary opportunity :^ and in five 
successive winters, from 1867 to 1871, the unwearied 
teacher devoted five months (November to March) 
to weekly historical and expository lectures on 
the New Testament, the antecedents of its doctrines, 
and the subsequent phases of Christian thought. 
In the closing years of the National he had published 
the first serious study, in this country, of the ' Early 
History of Messianic Ideas.' There, too, he reviewed 
Renan's Vie de Jesus, and declared it doubtful 
whether Jesus ever gave himself out as Messiah.' 

1 The writer well remembers after forty years the vividness 
of the description of Stephen's appearance before the Sanhedrin, 
and the concentrated attention of the hearers as the narrative 
advanced to the catastrophe, when a hush of reverence fell on 
the whole auditory. The habitual stillness of the congriegation 
made this all the more impressive. 

2 A short course in which Mr. Tayler, Mr. Martineau, and others 
took part was delivered in this way at University Hall, in 1865, 
Mr. Martineau contributing four. 

3 Essays, iii. 323. The second Life issued by Strauss, iq 1864 


The suspension of the National in the autumn of 
1864 released him from the necessity of frequent 
occasional production, and he turned with eagerness 
to the studies which had so long engaged his highest 
interest. Their fruits began to appear in an 
American periodical entitled Old and New, under 
the persuasion of his friend Dr. Bellows, of New 
York.^ But this venture also was cut untimely 
short ; and the full exposition of his views on these 
themes was only completed in his last great treatise, 
The Seat of Authority in Religion, 1890. 

No congregation could discharge its duty, in 
Mr. Martineau's view, without making some system- 
atic provision of helpfulness for the neighbourhood 
around it. While he often protested against de- 
nominational organisation of general philanthropy,^ 
to such social service he gave long and anxious 
thought. An opportunity lay close at hand. His 
former pupil and friend. Miss Anna Swanwick, 
had for some years past promoted classes of girls, 
which she first assembled in her mother's house 

was noticed in the article ' The Crisis of Faith ' {Essays, iii.) 
in what proved to be the final number of the National, November, 
1864. To Mr. B. B. Wiley (Chicago) he explained in a letter 
of Sept. 29, 1862, the reasons which had led mm to abandon the 
idea of himself producing a volume on the ministry of Christ. 
' It gleams on our purified vision in hints and streaks of beauty ; 
and though these flow together into fragments of form not only 
distinct but unique, yet every attempt to complete them dis- 
appoints one and produces a whole quite inadequate to the glory 
of its elements. So I begin to suppose that his personality is 
better left as one of those divine and holy mysteries that have 
power over us just because they represent, with the sweetest 
harmony of our life, also the infinite silence in it that cannot be 
broken.' Atlantic Monthly, Oct., 1900, p. 489. 

^ Dr. Bellows visited England in 1868. 

2 He disliked a Unitarian Temperance Society, for instance 



in Wobum Square.^ After a temporary sojourn 
in the Colonade (' a quaint old-world place long 
since demolished '), they found a home in Newman 
Street, not far from Little Portland Street Chapel, 
where the Rev. J. J. Tayler and other friends 
became interested in them. The movement grew, 
until finally large Day and Sunday schools were 
estabUshed in Little Titchfield Street (Great Port- 
land Street), where a fine building was reared 
to house them.* On these schools for many years 
their nourisher and guardian bestowed untiring 
care. In the Day schools he was constantly to be 
found as visitor ; his sympathy and support were 
always ready for the teachers ; by his scrupulous 
order, in the office of Secretary, the necessary 
correspondence with the Education Department 
was performed with unfailing accuracy. 

But his share in the Sunday schools was yet 
larger.^ To enUst the help of as many teachers 
as possible, he himself undertook the afternoon 
superintendence. Sunday by Sunday, after an 
exhausting morning service, he was to be found at 
the desk; the whole order of the School, which 
numbered between 300 and 400 scholars, revolved 

^ Anna Swanwich, p. 44. 

* Opened June 29, i856. Mr. Martineau devoted to this 
enterprise the ;£i,ooo ahready named. On everything concerning 
the fabric he was thoroughly well-infonned : his practiced sagacity 
was a constant surprise to those who only thought of him as a 
philosopher. The architectonic faculty in his mind required 
for its exercise complete mastery of detail. 

^ To this cause he was always faithful. It must suffice to 
mention here his regular attendance at the anniversaries of the 
Sunday School Association in Whit- week, and the many counsels 
(sometimes, it must be admitted, ' of perfection ') contained 
in his speeches. 


round him ; he was ' the very pulse of the machine.' 
But, as the College students who responded to his 
appeal,^ observed with admiration, no constraint 
was ever laid upon their ways. He was no autocrat, 
imposing his authority upon subordinates; he 
was a fellow-worker, always full of respect and 
sympathy for the awkward efforts of an untried 
beginner. Periodic meetings of the teachers were 
held at his house ; he was an ideal chairman, for 
he could draw up resolutions at a moment's notice 
in a buzz of talk, giving immediate expression to 
some dimly formed idea ; and he knew the business 
of each class, and was frequently acquainted with 
the individual scholars.^ Differences of opinion 
were sometimes inevitable. An outbreak of dis- 
order at one of the summer excursions' seemed to 
call for disciplinary arrangements the following 
year. Mr. Martineau was on the side of the discipline. 
But an opposition appeared under the aegis of a 
devoted teacher, who had been one of his workers 
in Liverpool ;* and with the help of some of his 

1 This often reached them, in highly characteristic notes, 
before their arrival in London. 

2 This arose partly from his intimacy with the day schools, and 
partly from his watchfulness for occasions of personal intercourse 
after school-hours, when the man who had suffered from shyness 
all his life would gently rebuke some refractory boy, or advise 
some applicant to the school-Ubrary about the choice of books. 

3 In these Mr. Martineau took part with his customary energy. 
Whenhe could not give the morning, he would come out in the after- 
noon. Till sixty, certainly, he played cricket with the elder lads. 

* A wise and witty woman, whose kindness to the College 
students at Dr. Martineau's monthly ' At Homes,' as well as in 
school, endeared her greatly to the men of successive years. 
Of the active, not the contemplative type, .she once observed 
on coming out of chapel, Apropos of the preacher's habit of 


College students she carried the day for more lenient 
measures. The Superintendent accepted the decision 
against him with perfect grace and good humour ; 
and perhaps even, so some suspected, with a secret 
satisfaction that severity was overruled. But only 
those in the home-secrets knew what these labours 
cost. The precious hours that might have been 
devoted to rest or family intercourse or favourite 
studies on Simday evenings, were consumed by half- 
mechsmical toils which he would not delegate. 
He could not endure any slovenliness in official 
duty. Books must be examined, attendances veri- 
fied, class-lists compared with the register at the 
desk ; the inadvertences in canying out a rather 
comphcated system of conduct-marks must be 
corrected ; all elements of possible friction must 
be removed, so that ever3^thing should be in working 
order for next week. To postpone the discharge 
of such tasks was intolerable ; but many a teacher 
remembered in quiet hours on Sunday nights that 
the Superintendent, then already venerable, was 
spending his strength on labours which others, 
had they trained themselves to the same business 
exactitude, might have performed as well. Truly 
might his successor in the pastorate at Little Port- 
land Street apply to him Wordsworth's great 
lines to Milton :^ 

' Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart ; 
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea ; 

occasional repetition of a discourse (this time on ' the Better 
Part,' Hours of Thought, vol. i.), ' I always feel so sorry for Martha 
when we have that sermon.' 

1 Rev. P. H. Wicksteed at the Memorial Service at Little 
Portland St. Chapel, Jan. i6, 190a 


Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, 
So didst thou travel on life's common way, 
In cheerful godliness ; and yet thy heart 
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.' 


The social conceptions that lay behind this service 
were of the aristocratic type into which Mr. Mar- 
tineau had definitely settled in his later Liverpool 
years. The discussions on Parliamentary Reform 
did not rouse his enthusiasm, for he was always 
more concerned for the performance of duties 
than for the establishment of rights. But he 
consistently advocated the extension of the franchise. 
When he addressed a large gathering of parents 
and friends at the opening of the Portland British 
Schools (June 29, 1866), ' By all means,' he said, 
' have household suffrage ' : only, ' let the working 
men show themselves qualified for it by properly 
fulfilling their responsibilities as householders, and 
not allow private benevolence to defray by far the 
largest portion of the cost of educating their chil- 
dren.'^ The inequalities of social condition, how- 
ever, no remedial schemes could remove. When 
the Rev. Brooke Herford, preaching on behalf of 
the Domestic Missions, drew a picture of rich 
and poor meeting for worship on a pewless floor, 
Mr. Martineau (undeterred by memories of Con- 
tinental devotion) demurred : that would be merely 

1 To this he attached great importance : in 1869 he declared 
himself not averse to the idea of a national system, but it must 
be administered so as to put upon the parents the duty of pajring 
their fair share of the expense, at the same time that they secured 
their proper part in the control of the schools. Inquirer, May 22. 

422 MINISTRY IN LONDON [ch. xii 

to lav a mask in their chapels on the facts outside, 
which would reappear the moment the doors were 
closed, and some went away in their carriages 
and some in their rags : let them honestly recognise 
their differences of position, and study how to 
fulfil their mutual duties.^ In a human society 
which rested on the acknowledgment of such recip- 
rocal obUgations, the abatement of grave and 
serious reverence filled him with alarm. He noted 
even in cultivated minds a grievous cowardice in 
the exercise of authority. This, tendency infected 
popular literature, encouraged the prevalence of 
slang in language, and produced the alternate 
vacillation and temerity which characterised public 
men : nor was it less evident in domestic life, in 
the increasing dominance of the children over the 
elders, and the difficulty of inducing parents to 
insist on obedience from the young.* It was the 
first note of old age : not often did he assume 
the part of laudator temporis acti. His comments 
called forth the criticisms of a friendly ' Artisan,' 
to whom he thus explained his social ideal. 

The world is not made upon the theory of what is called 
self-government, i.e., that everyone shall manage himself, and 
nobody govern anyone else : no, like the family, it is made up 
not of equals but of unequals, and is a united organism merely 
on that account. There are but two other governments of men 
possible ; the rule of the Higher, and the rule of the Stronger. • 
And if they lose all sight of anything above themselves, and are 
swayed by no sense of any solemn and divine claim upon their 
heart and will, and cannot get out of the free and easy style 
of knocking through life and death, the rule of the Stronger 
win assuredly close around them, and bring their ' new ideas ' 

^ Inquirer, June 4, 1859. 

^ Speech at the Annual Meeting of the London Domestic 
Mission Society, Inquirer, May 25, 1867. 


to a dismal end. The man who lives under no ideal sense of 
authority, is, so far, unfit for social existence ; and is without 
the cement which saves him from isolation. And an age which, 
instead of letting its veneration shift to higher objects as they 
appear, rudely abates and abolishes it. loosens its whole structure 
and becomes dangerous.* 

Sometimes, with a note of more buoyant hope- 
fulness, he would contrast the great cities of antiquity 
with the triumphs of Christianity ; yet the rising 
anxiety for the discharge of social duties begot 
new dangers ; in haste to enact the part of good 
Samaritans, the claimants were sometimes afraid 
lest the sufferer's wounds should be soothed with 
unconsecrated oil, or disputed on what beast he 
should be carried to the inn.^ Against the tendency 
to rely on institutional work, which always becomes 
more or less languid, and needs the perpetual refresh- 
ing of a new spirit, he placed his faith in ' direct 
and personal contact between the poor and the 
rich ' : the ranks of society were part of the Provi- 
dential order of the world, and to destroy them 
was an impossibility.^ In one sense Christian 
civilisation, he argued, had created its own diffi- 
culties ; the ravages of misery were no longer 
permitted to clear from the field the idiot, the half- 
capable, the maimed. The modem demand was 
for preservation at all costs, and deliverance if 
possible. By this new responsibility the moral 
order of the world, and the unity of the human 
family, were assuredly strengthened ; though econ- 
omic and administrative energies were exposed 
to severer strain. The current despair was reaUy 

^Inquirer, June 8, 1867. ^Inquirer, May 30, i868. 

3 Inquirer, May 15, 1869. 


an augury of promise ; the amount of physical 
and moral evil was probably less now than at any 
period known to history ; the change was not in 
the darker sight we see, but the humaner eye that 
looks. And so the very despondency in the litera- 
ture of doubt justified the summons to brighter 

The student of political philosophy found foreign 
affairs no less interesting than in former years. 
Warned privately by Mr. Ernest de Bunsen in the 
spring of 1858, he was prepared to confirm Mazzini's 
belief that there would be war between France 
and Austria early in 1859, when Francis Newman 
was stUl sceptical.^ Mr. Newman's intimacy with 
Kossuth led Mr. Martineau to write to him (Sept. 
g, i860) : ' I see you stiU have a little of the Hvm- 
garian leaning towards Louis Nap. No doubt, 
he might have done worse, and so far deserves 
credit for his abstinence. The test of his honest 
purpose towards Italy will be, his course when 
Garibaldi approaches Rome. I am puzzled to think 
what solution there can be for that part of the grand 
problem.' In the Italian movement he saw ' nothing 
else than an insurrection by the noblest elements 
of Italian society — its science, its literature, its 
highest character and aspirations, — against a corrupt 
and hopeless mockery of civihsation, that has 
evidently reached its hour for final retirement 
from the world.'^ As the year ran out, and he sur- 

1 Inquirer, May 25, 1872. 

* Life of Catherine Winkworth, ii. p 248. 

3 Speech at Hope St., Dec. 28, i860 : Inquirer, Jan. 12, 1861. 


veyed the changes of thought in England, Holland, 
Germany, on the one hand, and France and Italy 
on the other, he declared that ages had passed 
since a period so momentous had presented itself 
in the history of Christianity : while the Christian 
world was full of elements which would flow together 
towards an ultimate faith, the forms of creed into 
which it would shape itself would of necessity 
change from age to age : and till that was recognised, 
progress could not be secure. 

Rapidly did the scene of interest shift across 
the Atlantic : and Europe listened with breathless 
expectation while Fort Sumter was bombarded 
(April, 1861). Recalling the incident at a later 
stage of the war, Mr. Martineau thus justified his 
condemnation of the policy of the government at 

To the Rev. J. H. Allen. 
PenmaenmawT, North Wales, July 8, 1863. 
I have always held that the attack on Fort Sumter put your 
government in the right, and compelled the resort to force in 
reply. The obligation to maintain the constitution was an 
obligation to use the forces of the State against Secession. The 
title of a government to vindicate its authority and property 
is unimpeachable ; and, accordingly, at the outset, all European 
spectators condemned the connivance of Buchanan and approved 
of the honest efforts of his successor. But the duty of using a 
formal right, and the extent to which it should be enforced, 
must always be limited by the range of possible success. It 
cannot be a duty, — on the contrary, it is the gravest of political 
crimes, — to pledge the resources of a state against all odds. 
No sooner, therefore, did the scale and the resoluteness of the 
Secession become evident, than the European feeling as to the 
original right became qualified by the spectacle of overwhelming 
facts : the problem undertaken by your government was deemed 
unmanageable : and the war was deplored as likely only to 
embitter an inevitable separation. Its continued prosecution 
seemed to imply a presumptuous overestimate of what human 
will and force can accomplish, and a rejection, too prolonged, 
of the obvious arbitrament of nature and Providence. 


Other letters to the same correspondent throw 

light on the growth of this view.^ The following 

acknowledges the gift of Mr. AUen's sketch of Old 

Testament history entitled Hebrew Men and Times, 

a book which encountered some hostile criticism 

from conservative Unitarian theologians, but would 

now be regarded as conceding too much to tradition. 

London, Nov. 29, 1861. 
My dear Mr. Allen, 

If you knew me as well as my old friends here know me, you 
would be surprised at no epistolary dumbness, however unaccount- 
able to more fluent and demonstrative men. As a school-boy, 
my mother had to scold me for not writing home : and ever since, 
I have gone on in the same unprincipled way,* and, I fear, have 
grown worse from having a wife who writes such capital letters, 
and in such copiousness, as to do duty for both of us. I have no 
adequate excuse for my dilatoriness toward you. True, I received 
your book after considerable delay. But receive it I did ; was 
delighted with it ; and ought to have thanked you for it long 
ago. Deduct three months from the time (when, being in Scot- 
land, I did not get the book), and a month for booksellers' delays : 
and charge the residue to my sins. Only, forgive me at last, 
and do not cut me off for my infirmity. 

Our theological critics scent something amiss, — something 
German and suspicious, — in your book. They do not like the 
idea of letting the names in the Scripture Lessons stand for 
proper, — still less for improper, — men and women ; and of open- 
ing the natural lines between Hebrew and other history. The 
best class of readers, however, will thank you for humanizing 
what had ceased to win them by pretensions exclusively divine ; 
and for letting the consecration spread over the wider field of 
history. The quiet, lucid style of the book is most agreeable 
to my taste ; and the compression of the matter is admirable. 

I fear that the terrible national crisis must for a long time 
stay the hand of every Uterary man amongst you ; and draw 
off all interest into one channel. And now, alas ! arises the 

1 They may be read in the Publications of the Colonial Society 
of Massachusetts. 

* To a correspondent in 1850, at the time of the Gorham 
controversy, he once wrote : ' To hinder the hereditary descent 
of this incurable taint I have some thoughts of solemnly baptizing 
my children with ink, in hopes of a special prevenient grace. 
For myself there is no prospect, but that I shall die in hardness 
of heart.' 


new and dreadful apprehension of war between our two countries ! 
But surely, this cannot be permitted : there must be a body of 
reasonable public opinion in New England, which may be brought 
to bear on the government at Washington, and may induce it 
to restrain the over-zeal of its ofificers. Through all the excite- 
ment produced here by the Trent affair, there is everywhere a 
disposition to abide by the acknowledged rules of international 
law, and to insist on nothing which it is consistent with honour 
and duty to concede. The right of search, which we once claimed 
against you, we shall be content to suffer from you. All contra- 
band of war is at the disposal of your Prize Courts, — though not 
of your naval officers without a Court. But Civil Persons, 
passengers on board our Steamers, between one neutral port 
and another, cannot in honour be given up, — and that without 
the trial and award of a tribunal. The impression at your 
embassy here eems to be, that the San Jacinto people have 
exceeded their instructions ; just as our officers did in the Chesa- 
peake case. God grant that the cloud may blow over I 

To the same correspondent he wrote on April 
14, 1863 :— 

Of two things materially affecting the international feeling, 
I wish I could give you the assurance which I profoundly have 
myself : that there is here no issue desired for your struggle except 
such as may be most conducive 10 the well-being and greatness 
of your Commonwealth, — be it singular or plural : and that there 
is no change whatever in the EngUsh estimate of slavery. . We 
simply do not beUeve in either the restoration of the Union, 
or the extinction of Slavery^ much less in joint accomplishment 
of both objects, by process of CivU War. And though this purely 
practical judgment may seem to occupy a humbler level than 
one which looks exclusively to the ideas said to be represented 
in the sprite, yet it goes to the very essence of right and wrong 
in the case: for a War which aims at impossible objects, — be 
they ever so intrinsically good, — is self-condemned. We believe 
Slavery to be truly, as you say, the cause of the struggle : we 
do not beUeve it to be the stake at issue. On the contrary, we 
regard the division between North and South as the one gleam 
of hope that has opened on the sad history of the coloured race 
in America. The Free States, discharged from their slave- 
responsibilities, would spring at once to the head of the great 
league of nations against the oppression of an inferior race. 
But the Free States, reunited with the South, must either pledge 
themselves again to uphold and sanction the hateful institution, 
or end it by a conquest and confiscation of magnitude so frightful 
and uncontrollable as to outbid slavery itself in crime and misery. 

On this great issue the Principal and the Professor 


of philosophy in Manchester New College were by 
no means agreed. Till the departure of the College 
for Oxford a quarter of a century later there 
lingered in University Hall a tradition of a Students' 
Debate, which related how Mr. Tayler, carried out 
of his usual calm, declared that there never was 
any great conflict in which he could say more em- 
phatically ' This is the side of God and that is the 
side of the Devil ' : whereupon Mr. Martineau 
arose and retorted that he had never found himself 
more utterly unable to ascribe the motives of the 
one side to a divine and those of the other to a dia- 
bolic agency. But a year or two later the two 
friends were again of one accord. After the assassi- 
nation of Lincoln, at the following Whitsimtide, 
Mr. Martineau moved a vote of sympathy upon his 
death and an address of condolence to the American 
Unitarian Association. The logic of events had 
convinced him. The objects which he had declared 
' impossible ' were accomplished : and the ' second 
inaugural ' struck him as ' one of the noblest utter- 
ances of a great and pure-minded statesman.' The 
murdered President was described as ' a man who 
had found his way through an unexampled crisis 
bv the light of a rare truthfulness, simplicity, and 
pohtical integrity.' ' The difficulties of his earlier 
career,' said the speaker, ' were enormous, and it 
was no wonder that it was marked by some vacilla- 
tion and ambiguities : but at the commencement of 
his second Presidency he had won the reward of 
faithfulness and calmness of mind, and his life was 
never so valuable as it was at this crisis.'^ 

^Inquiref, June lo, 1865. 


Ever since his residence in Germany during the 

annus mirabilis, Mr. Maxtineau had followed its 

political development with the keenest interest. 

After the ' Seven Weeks' War ' in 1866 he wrote 

to Newman : — 

The Prussian expansion is so full of wonder, interest, and 
promise, that I am half ashamed of not being able to bring my 
judgment and my feeling into completer accord about it. But 
I cannot help wishing that results so great could have been 
wrought out by an instrumentality that commanded more 
sympathy. In spite of all his abiUty and success, I feel the 
intensest dislike to Bismark, and only a cold rational satisfaction 
in his outwitting Louis Napoleon, and carrying despair to Vienna. 
But when the drama is contemplated, and the actors forgotten, 
the play of the piece is grand : and makes one breathless for 
the next act. 

When the final catastrophe arrived, in 1870, 

he feared the political sequel of the war more than 

its actual calamities. The desolating incidents of 

the Commune in the spring of 1871 suggested a 

text for one of his finest speeches at the Whitsuntide 

anniversary,^ when he compared the fruits of a 

' grand nationsd moral idea inspiring the German 

nation ' with the disorganisation of the French, 

' not through a fault of their own but through 

the wretched political experience which they have 

suffered for the last twenty years.' The theme was 

developed into a contrast between the two great 

rival influences which had been struggling in France 

for the comniEind of popular education. On the 

one side were the priests : on the other the philo- 

sophes. True the recent results of sacerdotal 

education could be satisfactory to none : — 

These very priests who have demanded this homage to their 
power, have been the very first victims of popular indignation. 

^Inquirer, June j, 1871. 


The very first sufferer has been the Archbishop of Paris ; the 
very first act has been the desecration of the altars ; the very 
first theft has been of the sacred plate out of the churches ; 
the very first institutions which have been closed have been 
these churches themselves ; and the people who have been their 
pupils have treated with the utmost scorn and contempt the 
faith and worship in which they have been trained. 

Neither party, he concluded, had succeeded in 
really educating the people ; but in comparing the 
two he ranged himself unhesitatingly on the side 
of the priests. Doubtless the religion which had 
been taught, was a religion which the intellects of 
the people had completely outgrown : but there 
was an unuttered aspiration for some form of 
religion not yet disclosed to them to take the place 
of that which had passed away, and fulfil the highest 
purposes of education. 

This conviction animated his support of Mr. 
Forster's Education Act, and led to the following 
defence of it, Whitsuntide, 1872, against a resolution 
offered by the Rev. Dr. Crosskey^ : — 

After quoting the two determining clauses (the 14th and 25th), 
Mr. Martineau argued that no favour was shown to one religious 
body more than to another, and asked : What was the particular 
magic about local taxation that conscience should object to 
allowing any portion of it to be devoted to the teaching of any 
religion other than one's own, while Queen's taxes had been paid 
year after year, out of which grants had been made to the various 
schools without a voice being raised against it ? This scruple 
was an afterthought, an everUisting principle picked up since 
yesterday. In pressing the Education Act the government did 
wisely in not looking upon England as a desert land, in which the 
whole work had to be begun at first, but in considering how they 
could incorporate existing institutions with their national system. 
The fact that upwards of 20,000 clergymen had gone heart and 
soul into the work of education, was one which the Government 
would have been infatuated to have overlooked. He felt the 
greatest repugnance to interfere with the Act until it had been 

1 To the efiect that the Education Act of 1870 violated the 
principles of religious equality. Inquirer, May 25, 1872. 


well tried. If religion was separated entirely from the ordinary 
education, it would be flung into the hands of the priests and 
parsons : while, if the general elements of religion were permitted 
to remain in daily contact with the ordinary education, the 
religious teaching would continually improve, and by degrees a 
common basis would be found for the worship and conscience 
of the people.i 

To one more topic of this period he thus adverts 

in a letter to Mr. Newman, Jan. 5, 1871 : — 

Your thoughts on men and things always touch and move me, 
like a prophet's words ; all the more wholesomely, because, 
instead of simply reflecting my own level convictions, they stir 
up inward controversies of conscience which leave me in the end 
on higher ground. Your faith and hope in regard to the public 
action of women I honour and love, and wish that I could share : 
for the future apparently is yours. But it is not without con- 
siderable qualification that I can approve of the new theory 
of women's life : and though I am for giving them free scope 
to enter into any profession or field of activity deemed honourable 
for men, so that their place should be found for them by natural 
aptitude and not by restrictive law or untested prejudice, yet 
I believe that experience will work out in the future adjustments 
not strongly contrasted with the past. I cannot so despair of 
household unity, and of the old doctrine that the State is an 
aggregate of families, as to wish for married women's suffrage. 
Even if I were to waive all scruples about it, I could not feel 
your trust in it as a means of getting rid of such odious legislation 
as the C.D.A I own that I cannot rfjvercome my repug- 
nance to the discussion of this subject, — especially the pubUc 
agitation of it in mixed assemblies, — by women : and the profuse 
circulation, among our wives and daughters, of the literature of 
the two sides, seems to me a disaster scarcely less than the 
laws themselves. An active Committee of high-minded married 
ladies, like Mrs. Butler, with a similar organisation of resolute 
men, would have worked, I think, better than the more com- 
prehensive societies which have taken the matter in hand. I 
do not much like the look of the Royal Commission, perhaps, 
however, from my ignorance of the names in many instances. 
The Home Secretary urged me to accept a seat on the Com- 
mission : and, under a strong conviction of duty, I consented, 
till I found that the enquiries would be largely conducted in 
towns where the C.D.A. have been in operation. As I cannot 
leave London, I was obUged to withdraw. 

Called upon unexpectedly, at a meeting on this 
subject, Mr. Martineau condensed his objection 

1 Compare his attitude in 1847, ante, chap. VIII. p. 274. 


to the Acts into a single sentence : ' Christ dismissed 
the guilty woman with the words, Go and sin no 
more. These Acts say, Go and prepare to sin again.* 


In Jmie, 1866, the Rev. Prof. Hoppus resigned 
the chair of philosophy in University College. In 
response to the urgency of some of his friends, 
who thought Mr. Martineau peculiarly qualified 
for this post, he allowed himself to become a candi- 
date. He himself felt that its tenure woiold be an 
incentive to a proper completion of his work as 
teacher.^ The Spectator strongly lurged his election, 
and when it was recommended by the Senate, his 
friends supposed that it was secure. At the Council 
Meeting, however, on August 4, there was an un- 
expected opposition, and by the casting vote of 
Lord Belper, who was in the chair, the resolution 
for his appointment was lost. The situation was 
described by the Candidate, in a letter to Prof. 
Newman thanking him for his ' most effective 
testimony ' : — 

It gave me, I am convinced, my most powerful support, and 
only frightened me by promising what I fear it is rather in my 
wish than in my power to perform. The election is not yet 
decided, but stands over for the November meeting of Council. 
Mr. Grote's motion was not carried but rejected ;* and so was the 
proposal to appoint his candidate, Mr. Robertson. But on the 
motion to adopt the Senate's recommendation of me, the votes 
were equal ; and the Chairman, Lord Belper, gave the casting 
vote in the negative, avowedly on the principle of Mr. Grote's 
rejected motion. So there was a dead-lock ; and the whole 

1 Letter to the Rev. W. H. Channing, Life, i. 414. 

2 This declared it inconsistent with the religious neutraUty 
of the College to appoint a candidate eminent as minister of one 
of the various sects dividing the reUgious world. 


afiair comes on de novo next month. In a curious letter to me 
J. S. Mill avows that his preference for Mr. Robertson arises from 
his desire to plant a thorough-going disciple in a seat of influence, 
and not from any consideration of superior personal qualifications. 
He excuses this sort of philosophical sectarianism by saying 
that it is a necessary retaliation on the exclusion of his opinions 
from places of authoritative instruction. There can be no doubt, 
I think, after this, that your interpretation of the opposition is 
correct. From the principle thus dragged in I have come to feel 
more interest in the election than on any personal grounds. 
The negative men are the aristocracy of the Council : and they 
are active and resolute : so that they may perhaps draw 
waverers to them, and establish a small majority at last. But 
some of my friends hope otherwise. 

The hope was defeated. Mr. Robertson was 
appointed in December, and though Mr. R. H. 
Hutton, with persistent faithMness, carried the 
matter before a special General Meeting of the 
Proprietors of the College,^ it was naturally difficult 
to cancel an election which had been already made. 
The proceedings aroused a good deal of attention 
in the press, and brought Mr. Martineau's name 
prominently before the public. As was to be ex- 
pected, he bore his rejection like a philosopher, 
and its only significant personal result to himself 
was that it enabled him to include Prof. Robertson 
in the circle of his friends. 

The meetings of the Metaphysical Society, which 
was formed in the spring of 1869, greatly enlarged 
the range of Mr. Martineau's personal acquaintance 
with the most eminent students of philosophy and 
science then living.^ The support of such new 

1 The requisition was signed by fourteen Fellows of the College, 
and six other Proprietors. 

2 As his share in its proceedings belongs rather to his work 
as a teacher of philosophy, its record is reserved for chapter XIV. 
It must suffice here to name his Catholic friends. Archbishop 
Manning, Father Dalgaims, and Dr. Ward. , 



interests was welcome to his sensitive and S5rm- 
pathetic nature, for the summer brought with it a 
heavy personal sorrow. After a short illness, the 
Rev. John James Tayler, whose strength had been 
somewhat severely strained by a journey to Himgary 
in 1868, died on May 28, in his seventy-second year. 
For a whole generation the two friends had been 
knit in partnership of thought and action. ' He 
was a true saint of the Unitarian t5T)e,' wrote 
Miss Catherine Winkworth (June 8) : ' a man of the 
most deeply devotional spirit, whose whole life was 
pervaded by piety ; and for humihty, charity, 
and candour, I never knew any one like him except 
Mr. Maurice. No one ever thought of being worldly 
or cynical or intolerant, while conversing with him.'^ 
To Mr. Martineau the loss was irreparable. The 
serenity and hopefulness of Mr. Tayler had again 
and again reheved his own self-distrusts ; as he 
counted himself among ' dependent minds,' the 
mingled reverence and sympathy which bound him 
to his friend, exactly satisfied his need of some one 
to whom he could still look up and be enlightened. 
The main burden of the work of the College now 
fell upon him.* But the image of Mr. Tayler, 
the friend of his full age, never ceased to Uve before 
him among the dearest and most sacred figures 
alike of his past and of his future.^ 

'^ Life of Catherine Winkworth, vol. ii. p. 514. 

2 To one who saw him at College prayers the first morning 
after the bereavement, he seemed ' like a crushed man.' He 
was immediately appointed Principal. See chap. XIV. 

* ' Loss and Gain in Recent Theology,' 1881 ; Essays, iv. 334. 
A sketch of Mr. Tayler will be found in Essays, i. 381. In less 
than a month after he had said the farewell words over Mr. 


Many and various were the personalities with 
whom events brought him into contact. Towards 
the end of May, 1870, he received a letter from a 
distinguished Dominican priest, who sought his 
help in the most delicate problems of faith and 
conscience. At Father Suffield's request, Mr. 
Martineau paid him a visit at Bosworth, and an 
active correspondence followed. On Father Suf- 
field's resolve to lay his perplexities before Dr. 
Newman, Mr. Martineau wrote : ' Your confidence 
could not be given to anyone more worthy to 
receive it, and more skilful to help in moral diffi- 
culties than the venerable and noble-souled Newman. 
Only there are crises in life when one has to rise 
into a truth higher than the human.'^ The point 
of view from which his own counsel was given, 
may be inferred from the following letters : — 

London, June 17th, 1870. 
Almost hour by hour my thoughts have been with you, since 
the last kindly grasp of your hand at the railway station. As 
far as the different habits of my mind permit, I try to think 
myself into your position, and though I dare not even fancy my 
sympathy with its difficulties complete, I see too clearly the 
loneliness, the wounds of affection, the trembUngs of conscience 
which it involves, not to long and pray for the power and privilege 
of rendering such help in the crisis as brotherly appreciation 
may make possible. The one difference between the CathoUc 

Tayler's grave, Mr. Martineau was called on to render the like 
service for his old feUow-student — also his frequent critic and 
opponent — the Rev. R. Brook Aspland. Magnanimous was 
his tribute to the deceased pastor's ' rare and happy social tact, 
his^ genuine loyalty to conviction, and his balanced reverence 
for Uberty and truth,' June 26 : Inquirer, July 3. 

1 Life of R. R. Sufjield, p. :S7. A little later, ' I am glad you 
are going to Birmingham to confer with Dr. Newman, — of all 
living religious writers the man I perhaps love and honour 
most, though the more I study him, the more do I wonder at 
the submission of such a mind to the Roman Catholic theology ' : 
ibid. p. 121. 


and the Protestant estimate of duty which your letters bring 
home to me, and which I find it most dififtcult to conciliate, 
has reference to the supposed conflict of claims between the 
intellect and the conscience. The proposition, ' The best and 
most complete ReUgion must be the true,' I can only read con- 
versely, — ' The true ReUgion must be the best and most complete," 
nor, apart from its truth, could I venture to measure the goodness 
of a faith. So Uttle can I escape from my Protestant reverence 
for veracity as the primary and paramount condition of any 
possible personal religion, and for any reality inwardly given 
me as against the fairest fictions recommended to me from 
without, that I cannot understand the possibility of invoking 
the Will against honest doubt and dawning Ught, without the 
keenest remorse as for heinous sin. I can enter into any degree 
of self-distrust : personally, I feel it profoundly, in the face of 
the collective judgment against me of the Church, or even of any 
one or two men whom I love and venerate. But this would only 
drive me to a sorrowful silence in following the Uttle Ught I have ; 
and could never justify me in pretending to have theirs. 

Killin, N.B., Aug. 15, 1870. 
The insight which I have gained through your recent ex- 
perience into the working of the CathoUc system, deepens my 
impression of the essential childishness of mind, and untrustful 
narrowness of piety, which deform the highest graces nurtured 
by it. To beUeve that the AU-holy God will treat a soul as lost, 
which in obedience to him (or, at aU events, what means to be 
such) performs an act of heroic self-sacrifice, what is this but 
a debasing superstition, applying the power of reUgion to the 
corruption of the moral sense ? It is iii the highest degree 
considerate and delicate in you to speak so tenderly as you do. 
of the spirit of the associates you leave. But I must confess 
that with my view of their narrowness of mind, compared with 
your own large comprehension of things, I cannot but feel your 
tone of hunuUty excessive. It would not be se//-assertion, 
but only homage to the Divine truth which has aUghted on you 

as its organ, to hold your head a Uttle higher I know 

you wiU forgive me for saying this : it is perhaps due to my 
own defective meekness. 

The confidence with which Mr. Martineau urged 
his correspondent to rely on the deepest convictions 
of his spirit, was reinforced by his contemporary 
intercourse with another eminent reUgious teacher, 
Keshub Chunder Sen. A few weeks before Mr. 
Martineau went to Bosworth, he opened his pulpit 
to the Hindu prophet, whom he afterwards described' 


as 'a soul most congenial to the soul of Jesus, a 
kind of second John.'^ At a great meeting where 
Dean Stanley and Lord Lawrence took part in v/el- 
coming him to England, Mr. Martineau, who had long 
sympathised with ' the tendency of modern thought 
to consecrate the whole history of humanity,' ^ thus 
described the lesson of his viut^ : — 

There were times when it was necessary to begin afresh, and 
see what could be done with the native resources of humanity 
communing with God through nature and through its own 
faculties. Their great reformer with his people had ventured 
upon that step, and had shown what truth could be won by a 
humtm soul standing in its loneliness and isolation, how far it 
was possible for it to hold communion with God, and to sanctify 
life and the creation into which it was born. The result had 
been what he beUeved it ever would be, that God and the human 
soul had found each other out ; and after all the storms of 
doubt and difficulty, the foot was found upon the eternal rock, 
against which the tempest would beat in vain, and overhead was 
a canopy of eternal love from which every cloud would sweep 
away. The noble lesson read to them by this Indian reformer 
was destined to react upon themselves. The European mind 
had a certain hardness in it, so that it was never able to make 
any large progress in knowledge without at the same time losing 
apparently its spiritual depth. He believed that the Indian 
intellect would appropriate all their modern science, without 
sacrificing the divine interpretation of the universe. In one 
of the Indian dramas it was said that the external creation and 
God had been separated from one another in the human mind 
by the action of the demon Illusion ; and when that demon was 
destroyed, they would again re-unite. So perhaps it would be 
now : and if their friends of the East could restore to them in the 
West something of the tender mind and the sweet humanity 
of which they had an example present in their guest, they would 
give them the best forgiveness for the past offences of a Clive 
and a Hastings, and the truest gratitude for the benevolent justice 
of a Bentinck and a Lawrence. 

Yet one more of his contemporaries was to pass 
from his view, ere he laid down the preacher's task. 

1 Speech at Hope St., Liverpool, Sept. 25, 1871. 

2 Letter to Rev. R. L. Carpenter, Feb. 5, 1862. 

3 Inquirer, April 16, 1870, condensed. 

438 MINISTRY IN LONDON [ch. xii 

' No prophet for fifteen hundred years,' he declared 
in April, 1872, ' not even Tauler himself, has borne 
such witness to the divine root and ground of our 
humanity, as Frederick Denison Maurice.'^ He 
might be negligent of logical architecture ; and quite 
above the ambition of the intellect : but ' for large- 
ness of thought which set him in sympathy with 
the various wisdom of the past ; for keenness of 
spiritual insight which seemed to make him confessor 
to the ultimate secrets of humanity ; for a love of 
God which in effect was identical with the sweetest 
and the brightest charity ; for power to turn religion 
from a mechanical form or a solemn tradition 
into a reality and joy ; no leader of our time, 
scarcely any past teacher of righteousness, can be 
compared with that servant of God who has just 
been taken from us, and whose mantle has 
not yet dropped upon the earth.' ^ And this was the 
man who was once condemned for ' the arrogance 
and offensiveness of his language as towards all 
from whom he differed.'* 


The summer vacation of 1872 was passed in 
Nant Gw3mant, beneath the peak of Snowdon, 
and on the beautiful estuary, between Barmouth 

1 Bom Aug. 29, 1805 ; died April i, 1872. As the coffin was 
lowered into the grave at the I^ghgate Cemetery, beneath the 
spring sunshine, Mr. Martineau, whose control over his feelings 
was usually complete, was seen ' weeping like a child.' Christian 
World Magazine, quoted in the Inquirer, Feb. 7, 1874. 

« Inquirer, April 13, 1872. 

3 By a writer in the British Quarterly Review, qnoted in the 
Inquirer, Oct. 8, 1859. 


and Dolgelly, in North Wales. Before returning 
to London, Dr. Martineau^ travelled with some of 
his family, towards the end of September, to Leeds, 
to visit his kindred there. Intimations of enfeebled 
health had already visited him, and an attack of 
giddiness on getting out of the railway carriage at 
Leeds aroused grave apprehensions. Under medical 
advice, he immediately resigned his pulpit. Only 
once did he ever occupy it again.^ To Mr. Newman 
he thus told his tale. 

London, Nov. 6, 1872. 
An attack of vertigo at Leeds on my way home from Wales 
warned me that the strain upon me, — ^which had been unusually 
severe last session, — was more than I could bear : and reminded 
me that I had often of late instinctively put a voluntary check 
upon my eagerness in preaching from a feeling that else it would 
somehow consume me on the spot. Dr. Clark can find no trace 
of anything going wrong in either heau't or brain, and believes 
that, with reduced work, the overplied functions will be all 
right again. But the sacrifice must be made of that part of my 
life-service which is most exciting. It is a painful wrench to 
tear myself away from duties that have had all my heart, and 
were to me more sacred at last than at first. But I am thankful 
that the season is chosen for me, and that I have simply to go 
where the way is shown. The illness has left no vestige : and I 
find my College and Uterary work no more fatiguing tluin before. 
If a few years more are allotted to me here, I shall try to use the 
time spared to me in bringing a Uttle nearer to completion one 
or two of the unfinished projects which, in their present state, 
seem to reproach me with either presumption or inconstancy. 

To the congregation and his fellow-workers in 
the Schools he bade separate farewells.* Many felt 
that something of the music of existence ceased 
for them when his voice was no more heard. But 

1 The degree of LL.D. had been conferred upon him in absentia 
by Harvard University in the preceding June. 

2 In June, 1881, for the delivery of the Address on ' Loss and 
Gain, in Recent Theology.' See chap. XIV. 

^ See the letters and resolution. Life, ii. 12-16. The congrega- 
tion made a parting gift of ;£3,50o. 


for him, too, there was a chapter closed. ' I met 
him shortly after,' related Miss Cobbe in 1900,^ ' and 
walked a little way beside him, murmuring a few 
words of grief that I should no longer listen to his 
preaching. His head drooped ; and he replied with 
infinite sadness in a low voice : " It has been my life." ' 
Some fruits of his ministry were yet to be gathered. 
Under the title Hours of Thought on Sacred Things 
two volumes of sermons were issued in 1876 cvnd 
1879. ''^he new hymnbook on which he had been 
long engaged was published in 1874, with the name 
Hymns of Praise and Prayer.^ A few years later, 
1879, under the urgent request of his successor, 
the Rev. P. H. Wicksteed, and some of the congrega- 
tion at Little Portland Street, he issued, with the 
consent of Dr. Sadler, a revised edition of the Ten 
Services in Common Prayer for Christian Worship,^ 
his own compositions naturally remaining unchanged. 
His general feeling was indicated in a letter to the 
Rev. F. E. Millson, of Halifax, Sept 17, 1874. 

I have a deep respect for both the variety of individual free 
prayer, and the sympathetic unison of a liturgy covering a 

^ Contemporary Review, p. 178. 

* It contained 797 pieces. Many of the hymns to which 
objection had been taken, were now dropped. The Messianic 
element disappeared, and Christianity was identified with ' the 
religion of Christ in its pure and personal essence,' preface, p. ix. 

3 This was called Ten Services of Public Prayer. In this volume 
the occasional services and the collects for the Christian year, 
belonging to its predecessor, were not included. — The final 
changes were introduced in conference with Mr. Wicksteed, 
who noticed that though Dr. Martineau had only just arrived in 
London after a fatiguing night-journey from Scotland, phrase 
after phrase sprang instantly from his lips to meet the difficulties 
or embody the suggestions presented to him, with unfailing 
readiness. Only a mind to which the devotional habit was 
continuous, could have thus responded without obstacle or delay. 


whole natural area of fellowship. But the intermediate condition, 
into which we are apparently passing, of neither personal freshness 
nor church unity, afiects me with much sadness, as a natural 
sign of religious dissolution. I am not wedded to any particular 
liturgical book, though I happen to have contributed to one. 
I would use any on which we could agree : or, perhaps by pre- 
ference, be free of all. But if there is to be any, I do think that 
some pains should be taken to secure its being one. 

' For the average or middle level of religious 
character,' he once said,^ common prayer was the 
best discipline for the spiritual life, though it would 
never satisfy the higher and devouter natures. 
But he doubted if there was any longer the unity 
of thought and feeling which alone could give dignity 
and power to a common form. ' The failure is the 
more mortifying,' he added, ' because there seems 
reason to think that if we could go deep enough, 
and free ourselves adequately from lingering con- 
ventional phrases, there might be reached a common 
ground of piety on which we might rest without 
strain to the conscience of anyone who admitted 
of prayer at all.' In prayer, then, as in every other 
function of the teacher of religion, the first requisite 
was veracity. Here was, in his own judgment, 
the whole secret of his own influence. ' As to what 
I have done in a long career,' he said at Liverpool 
in 1871,^ ' it has been the simplest thing in the world. 
It has been simply to say precisely and always 
that which I thought and believed and felt to be 
true : to hold back nothing, to profess nothing, 
to measure nothing by a standard other than was 
perfectly and absolutely sincere.' 

^Inquirer, Oct 13, 1871. 

2 Speech at the opening of the Hamilton Road Church, Inquirer, 
Sept. 30. 



In spite of the extreme ' individualism ' which 
his critics sometimes discovered in his modes of 
ethical and religious thought, Mr. Martineau's 
sympathies drew him strongly towards the associated 
life of endeavour and devotion. For many years 
he had been an unwilling Nonconformist : to Mr. 
Wicksteed, who had consulted him about points 
in the constitution of the Hope Street Church, 
he wrote in 1863, ' I greatly prefer the Church system, 
in spite of its obvious evils ; and I believe that the 
real future of English Christianity is entrusted to 
it. But whilst we remain outside it, we must 
accept and work out the consequences of our position.' 
When Dean Stanley delivered his address at Sion 
College, on ' Church and State,' and the Bishop of 
London (Dr. Tait) observed that he did not want 
England to become Unitarian, but he feared that 
result, or something analogous, if the connexion 
of Church and State were dissolved, Mr. Martineau 
replied that notwithstanding the bribe held out 
to him by the Lord Bishop, of the prevalence of 
his opinions if Church and State were severed, he 
was yet an Englishman, and preferred the welfare 


of his country to the prevalence of any theological 
sect or opinions whatever.^ 

The true conditions of doctrinal and religious asso- 
ciation had long engaged Mr. Martineau's careful, 
thought, and his London ministry presented oppor- 
tunities for realising his ideas. The key-note of 
his action had been struck as early as 1854 in a 
letter to Prof. F. W. Newman, apropos of his pro- 
posals for Catholic Union. 

I cannot conceive of a Church without the worship of a Living 
and Personal God. With this, I think, a Church must begin, 
not end : and short of this we can have, — as it seem.s to me, — 
only clubs or associations for particular objects, not any fusion 
into a common spiritual life. After all, perhaps, the divided 
state of sentiment, rendering union impossible, is not so great 
an evil as we are apt to suppose. It is a phenomenon chiefly 
found among the intellectual minority, whose function it is to 
modify the hereditarj' principles of churches around them, 
and who cannot well be at home in any. The great majority, 
meanwhile, of those who, in any Protestant period, have fallen 
under religious influence, are piobably Jiving in connexion with 
churches not unsuited to their .stage of mind and character. 
Tried by an idealstandard, we are miserable enough, and have 
reason to bless those who can paint for us a ' church of the future.' 
But estimated by historical comparison, we may, I fancy, take 
heart a little, and doubt ' whether the former times were jjetter 
than these.' 

At the first anniversary of the British and Foreign 
Unitarian Association after his settlement in London, 
Mr. Martineau, loyal to his opinions, warmly sup- 
ported its cause as essential for the encouragement 
of individual fidelity in the avowal of unpopular 
convictions. But at the same time he declared 
his adhesion to the purpose and conception of the 

1 Inquirer, Feb. 15, i868. 


Presbyterian forefathers (slipping in the remark 
that the modem equivalent of their principle of 
the ' sufficiency of Scripture ' was the ' right to free 
enquiry '), and called on the Association to divest 
itself of all congregational representation, and rely 
solely on its individual members.^ To the London 
District Society he re-expounded next day his 
conception that worshipping assembhes should not 
be founded on a doctrinal basis with a view to 
the propagation of distinctive theological ideas, 
but organised to embrace the common purpose 
of Christian life, leaving an open theology that 
might change within these limits.^ This thesis 
was enforced a year later in two powerful letters, 
addressed to the Rev. S. F. Macdonald, of Chester, 
entitled ' The Unitarian Position,'^ and ' Church- 
Life ? or Sect-Life ? '* The denominational waters 
were stirred. There had not been such trouble 
since the Aggregate Meeting one and twenty years 
before.^ Perhaps the passage that gave most offence 
Wcis the declaration — often quoted since : — 

1 am conscious that my deepest obligations, as a learner from 
others, are in almost every department to writers not of my 

^ The number of congregations actually sending representatives 
was exceedingly small, but this did not affect the principle that 
congregations founded on ' open trusts,' should not commit 
themselves to an Association constituted for the promotion 
of a particular doctrine for Lancashire and Cheshire. On the 
other hand, at the meeting of the Provincial Assembly (the 
organisation of which was open, see chap. VII., ante, p. 204) in 
1855 Mr. Martineau had proposed a system of congregational 
representation by lay delegates, which was adopted the next year. 

2 Inquirer, May 29, 1858. 

3 This was a private letter, but was deemed of such importance 
that Mr. Macdonald sent it to the papers. 

* 1859 ; Essays, iii. ' Ante, chap. VII. p. 217. 


own creed. In Philosophy I have had to unlearn most that I 
had imbibed from my early text-books, and the authors in chief 
favour with them. In Biblical interpretation, I derive from 
Calvin and Whitby the help that fails me in Crell and BeLsham. 
In Devotional literature and religious thought, I find nothing 
of onrs that does not fail before Augustine, Tauler, and Pascal. 
And in the poetry of the Church, it is the Latin or the German 
hymns, or the lines of Charles Wesley, or of Keble, that fasten 
on my memory and heart, and make all else seem poor and cold.l 

Under the storm of criticism which these letters 
aroused, Mr. Martineau remained silent.^ But to 
his friends at Hope Street on Jan. 6, i860, he thus 
explained himself^ : — 

I know how difficult it is to bring minds of intense conviction, 
without wide horizon to any trust in the broader and more 
generous method. ' Do not deceive yourself,' said a friend to 
me once, ' No man cares for more liberty than he wants for himself, 
or likes to see others out of his bounds.' I cannot accept this 
cynical sentiment, which is refuted by many a passage in our 
religious body. But now and then one meets with facts that 
give it too much plausibiUty. ' Why are you so anxious about 
tree learning ? ' said one of our ministers not long ago : ' That 
was all very well so long as we were working clear of our errors, 
but now that we have got the truth, we have only to fix it and 
hand it down.' This ingenuous confession illustrates the tenacious 
hold which the idea of an ultimate ' orthodoxy ' has upon other- 
wise Uberal minds ; and warns us lest we, too, have our best 
strength sapped by this pernicious parasite of the tree of life, 
and divert into it the fostering juices of our Christian growth. 
As a consequence of this same illusion, I notice in the religious 

1 ' The Unitarian Position,' Essays, iii. 375. 

2 They failed to convince the advocates of a ' Unitarian Church.' 
Already on Jan. i, 1859, the Inquirer had uttered grave warning 
against the ' dangers of the mystical school,' in a review of the 
Studies of Christianity. ' We know of devout men and women 
leaving the faith of their childhood because they wished for a 
sheltering Church, a holy doctnne to which to cliiig, and for which 
to work, and their ministers have told them that no Unitarian 
Church exists, and that they must discover doctrines for them- 

3 In defence of the principle of Manchester New College, 
Inquirer, Jan. 14. A rumour was at the time going the round of 
the papers in Manchester and London that an attempt would 
be made to eject him from his professorship at the approaching 
annual meeting of Trustees. It proved wholly groundless. 


criticisms of the day a habit of driving every obnoxious opinion 
into some false dilemma furnished by old party names. Every 
modified belief is instantly met by the cry ' You cannot stand 
there, you must either go forward or come back.' Do you venture 
to hint that the Christianity of a rich-souled age, nurtured by 
deciduous sanctities of many seasons of Christendom, may be 
higher than that of a rudimentary time ? That, you are told, 
is the doctrine of development, which you must either retract 
or become Catholic. Do you question the separate reality of 
physical forces, and see only divine causation through the organism 
of nature ? That, you are told, is the road to pantheism, and 
thither you must go, if you do not recoil. Do you say that God's 
holy Spirit is no stranger to our humanity, but infuses an 
adequate grace for the guidance of each will ? That is Quakerism, 
and you must assume the broad brim, or construe the spirit back 
into Nature. Do you sift the accounts and separate the elements 
of any recorded miracle ? That is the way to anti-supematural- 
ism, and you must either desist from your criticism or betake 
yourself to Deism. Do you admire the clear intellect and 
exegetic skill of a Calvin ? Depend upon it, then, your Unit- 
arianism is shaky, and you will not stop short of the ' Five 
Points,'. . . . Such dilemmas must always operate, not for 
conviction, but for pain and odium only. For myself I repudiate 
them all, and while more or less occupying every one of these 
' untenable positions,' I am as much of a Unitarian as I ever was. 

Meanwhile, opinion was slowly moving. On Jan. 
30, 1861, the Rev. Henry Solly published a letter 
proposing to withdraw the name ' Unitarian ' from 
the title of the ' Provincial Assembly of Presby- 
terian and Unitarian Ministers ' for Lancashire 
and Cheshire. The field was small, but large issues 
were involved, and on them Mr. Martineau com- 
mented as follows^ : — 

I concur in his disapproval of theological tests. I think it a 
mistake to mix up doctrinal definitions or names with the trusts 
or constitution of a Christian congregation. When the question 
between an open and a closed theology as the basis of a Church 
is put to the vote, I go with Mr. Solly to the Presbyterian side 
of the house. But I do not on this account feel impelled to turn 
my dogmatic friends out of doors, and refuse to sit in the same 
assembly with them. It would be a peculiar Catholicity were 
I to urge my comprehensiveness of them to their exclusion. 

1 Inquirer, Feb. 3, 1 86 1. 


This is a practical question. I find myself in an ecclesiastical 
connexion, essentially one in its inherited associations and 
living convictions, yet divided between two tendencies, both 
of them justified by history and permanently natural to religious 
men ; on the one hand to Catholic feeling and a foreshadowing 
of future truth ; on the other to doctrinal zeal and unqualified 
confidence in present forms of conviction. Some of its congrega- 
tions have an open constitution, some a close one. I am toto 
animo with the former, and shall never cease, as between the two, 
from warning against the extension of the other. But where 
both tendencies have settled into peaceful relations on common 
ground, where express provision is made for both, I lament the 
attempt of either to expel the other, and assert its own supremacy. 
The men on either side have after all a more natural alliance 
than any other that could be formed. I have always desired 
the freest scope for both within the limits of mutual recognition 
and respect, and am equally convinced that no exclusively Unit- 
arian organisation, and no exclusively Presbyterian, can meet 
the conditions, and gather up the real power, of our present 
ecclesiastical existence. 

To the Rev. R. L. Carpenter. 

London, Feb. 12, 1861. 

Mr. Solly, I am happy to say, has come round to my view of 
the Provincial Assembly question, and means to avow his change 
of conviction in the nejrt Inquirer. I have always been struck 
with his remarkable candour. 

Whilst I recognise, I cannot but regret, the change in the 
character of the Assembly. Freedom of thought, it is true, 
was not the passport of admission : but the belonging to a certain 
Nonconformist body which deliberately refused (at the time when 
our chapels were founded) to bind up the freedom of thought 
was the passport for admission : and this alone has enabled us 
to become what we are. Within the period of our history 
the word ' Presbyterian ' never meant anything else than this, 
together with the idea of a national Church on a representative 
instead of a hierarchical basis. The name therefore is oppressive 
to no theology which remains open-minded ; and would have 
needed neither addition nor change, but for the appearance 
amongst us of congregations with a shut-up theology. This I 
cannot but regard as a change for the worse : but so long as it 
leaves the old principle in peaceable existence along with it, 
I am for letting both ' grow together till the harvest.' 


No further steps were taken to give shape to Mr. 
Martineau's ideas, until a movement in an opposite 


direction evoked a counteracting effort. In the 
Slammer of 1865 the Rev. Samuel Bache, of Birming- 
ham, appealed to the Committee of the Unitarian 
Association to ' remove all ambiguity as to the 
acceptance of the specieil and immediate divine 
origin and authority of the Christian revelation.'^ 
Two months later he issued an address in which he 
pointed out that at the time of its formation the 
meaning of both the terms by which its objects were 
expressed — ' the promotion of the principles of 
Unitarian Christianity at home and abroad ^— 
was clear and undisputed. Christianity was univer- 
sally maintained by Unitarians, equally with Trini- 
tarians, as the distinctive designation of the belief 
in Jesus as the Christ, in his mission and inspiration 
and doctrine as immediately and specially divine, 
and as carrying with them a direct divine authority.* 
The challenge produced an active correspondence 
both in pubhc and private, in the course of which 
the Rev. P. W. Clayden, of Nottingham, appealed 
to Mr. Martineau to come forward and lead. 

As to the despondency (replied Mr. Martineau*), I am ready, 
if Mr. Clayden rightly interprets the feeling of our denomination, 
to throw it away. Let us but turn our face right for the future, 
and we may to regret the past. If, however, for this purpose 
we have to quit the track of the last two generation ; if Mr. 
Bache's proposal lies direct upon that track, and is supported by 
the habits and ideas of half a century ; if no warning or protest 
has hitherto availed to keep us from copjring the dogmatic sects, ■ 
and we have become more and more deeply committed to their 
language and methods, Mr. Clayden must admit some difficulty 
in recovering the lost path, and forgive the sigh of one who could 
never even persuade his companions that it had been lost at all. 

A few days before, he had written to Mr. Tayler 

1 At the Whitsuntide meeting, June 7, Inquirer, June 10. 
^ Inqu%rer^ August 12. ^ Inquirer, SepU 23-. ■ 


(Sept. 13), ' For generations to come I see no ark 
of refuge, no retreat for the Christian s|)irit which 
is at once Catholic and intellectual, but our little 
Church ; and we must keep, if we can, the balance 
true between the width of its thought and the depth 
of its devotion.'^ At the end of the year he thus 
reviewed the situation in a letter to Mr. Thom : — 
In the darkness some points emerge quite clear to 
me now, though these were not so when I wrote to 
the Inquirer, (i) The B. and F.U.A. cannot be widened, 
or turned to any account beyond the diffusion of 
Unitarianism. Both Mr. Field (its solicitor) and 
Mr. Cookson (our two best advisers) are quite positive 
about this. (2) The name ' Unitarian ' is quite incom- 
patible with any Cathohc organization, and must be 
dropped as a Church name. Ennoble it as you will, 
add to it, as Channing has done, great faiths and the 
beauty of holy associations, you cannot take away 
from it its meaning of belief in the unipersonality of God : 
so that it must always act as a creed of exclusion against 
those who cling to the Incarnation or any form of 
Trinity. A once orthodox friend says : ' When we 
begin our approaches to you heretics, the first doctrine 
that loses hold on us is that of eternal punishment ; 
then perhaps, original Depravity ; next, the Atonement ; 
and last of all, if at all, the Union with the Son of Man 
of the Eternal Son of God, — which represents to us 
the blending of Divine and Human in us all. But you, 
with singular perversity, thrust to the front, by your 
name Unitarian, the very distinction at which we 
arrive the last, and which many of us, else wholly 
yours, never quite reach at all.' Thus the first thing 
we reqiure a man to surrender is the last he is willing 
to quit. And we see how many, with general sympathies 
running in the same channels with ours, are unable to 

1 !.»/«, i. 417. 



rest satisfied with the Absolute simpUcity of the Divine 
Nature. Did we however do no practical violence in 
this way to the natural adjustments of religious 
sympathy, still the gross inconsistency of catholic 
professions under a doctrinal name must revolt every 
clear mind, and weaken even the half-sighted with an 
indistinct shame. And it is a deplorable pity that a 
name, excellent and indeed indispensable in the 
vocabulary of theological opinion, should thus, by 
abusive appUcation to a Church, make us shy of it 
from the sense that while it tells the truth of us 
individually, it tells a lie about us ecclesiastically. 
(3) We greatly need a real and exhaustive representative 
organization for our congregations ; an Association 
which shall bring our whole public religious life under 
review and into expression, with a view to mutual 
help and better building up, and infusing into the 
weaker members some of the resources and spirit of 
the stronger. I am not blind to the difl&culties con- 
nected with the formation and working of such a body : 
but they are less serious, I think, than the defects 
under which we suffer till we have it. And I am sanguine 
enough to believe that we have amongst us experience 
and insight adequate to the construction of an organiza- 
tion which, while religiously respecting congregational 
independence, may make this very blessing greater by 
the vigour of some central sympathy. 

Supposing the way clear for the establishing of such 
an Association (which would leave the B. and F.U.A. 
to its own work), the new and broader name, might, 
in the first instance, be simply attached to it : and, if 
introduced with sufficient impressment, it would of 
itself, with suitable example and encouragement, spread 
to our congregations. What the name should be could 
only be determined by conference with each other. 
Provided it be comprehensive and Christian, I am 
ready to take or to suggest whatever title is most 
congenial to us on the whole. . . . 


Mr. Clayden, meanwhile, had been gathering the 
opinions of brother ministers ; and a Conference 
was ultimately held at Nottingham on the 13th and 
14th of March, 1866, when it was decided to form 
a ' Free Christian Union.' Notice of the necessary 
steps to discharge the Association from its function 
of representing congregations was at once given : 
but it was ultimately withdrawn in favour of a 
proposal to appoint a Committee to consider how 
far the Association should be modified, or in what 
way two separate agencies could divide the work 
between them in friendly co-operation. At the 
Annual Meeting on May 23 the motion of Mr. Bache 
was lost by a very large majority, and the Committee 
was nominated. 


In the meantime Mr. Martineau's active pen 
bad sketched the whole position on which the 
historic congregations had been founded, in an 
article entitled ' The Living Church through Changing 
Creeds.'^ It was a defence of the principle of open- 
ness to progressive change, which Mr. Gladstone 
had emphasized in the debate on the Dissenters' 
Chapels BiU.** It sought for a basis of Church 
union no narrower than Christianity itself ; rejected 
all congregational fellowship on the basis of special 
theological names ; and demanded for each religious 
assembly the right of continuous modification in 
doctrine, discipline, and worship. The pubUcation 
of the resolution which it was proposed to move 

^ Theological Review, A-pril,zS66. *Seea»te, chap. VII. p. 238 


at the Annual Meeting of the Association, supported 
by a strong list of distinguished names, both 
ministerial and lay {Inquirer, April 14), drew forth 
the next week an emphatic protest from ' H.A.B.,* 
the well-known initials of Mr. Henry Arthur Bright, 
of Liverpool. To this Mr. Martineau replied in 
the same columns. May 5 ; and as the letter is now 
less accessible than the essay just named, some 
passages from it are here reproduced. 

The divergencies of ' Unitarian thought,' it is said, 
have reached their limit ; and, as it is, are barely 
compatible with ' unity.' It is true, and will be ever 
truer. So it is time we should cease to expect union 
from ' Unitarian thought,' and should throw ourselves 
upon some principle of life which will blend, and not 
divide, which lies beneath our individualities and keeps 
its stiU depth under the play of fluctuating thought. If 
we cannot free ourselves from the haunting sensitiveness 
to differing beliefs, which is the disease of other com- 
munions and the sin of our own, if we can find no 
Christian life and faith other than opinion and its 
corollaries, if we cannot worship and work together till 
we have defined the intellectual assumptions on which 
we proceed, nothing but disintegration can take place. 
New questions arise every year ; new heresies captivate 
the younger spirits, and irritate the elder ; and as 
theology complicates its problems, and thought grows 
richer in variety, critical unity becomes more and more 
impossible. Shall we then break up, and have as many 
religions as we have schools ? Or shall we quit the 
surface, cease to be angry with new books and words, and 
seek the common heart, where the Spirit of God resides, 
and that of Christ sets us at one with it, and thence work 
out as we can, not the verbal theory, but the living 
reality of the Christian Ufe ? 

But, says ' H, A. B.,' no other people will ever join 


the Unitarians. Is that any reason why the Unitarians 
should shut them out ? Is it nothing that the responsi- 
bility for separation should rest in the right place ? 
And are you willing to copy, and retaliate upon, all the 
exclusions against which you protest ? No one expects 
that the old types of theology, bom from antagonisms — 
Calvinist and Arminian, Athanasian and Unitarian — 
can ever gather themselves around the same sanctuary ; 
and their forced union, in France and Geneva, and 
elsewhere, can produce only uneeisy results. The reason 
is obvious, and removes these cases whoUy from the 
present argument. In these opposing systems you have 
to do, not with intellectual differences merely, but with 
contradictory ' terms of salvation,' and to unite them 
would be to frame a common Uturgy for heaven and hell. 
Wherever the idea of ' orthodoxy ' as a condition of 
divine acceptance is retained, heterodox people cannot be 
owned as of the same religion. But is that any reason 
why we, who have never groaned under that bondage, 
should not open our doors wide to the many who, all 
around us, are fast escaping it too ? Is it not notorious 
that we have already lost, or are daily losing, a large class 
of singularly earnest and thoughtful Christians who, 
though one with us through the greater part of our faith, 
and vigorously applying it against the narrowness of the 
Church and the evils of the world, hold some doctrine 
about the Person of Christ which the Unitarian name 
excludes ! And do we not see ' Free Christian Churches ' 
springing up around us, Uving on the principle which 
we have dropped, and keeping aloof from us because they 
will not be doctrinally pledged ? What should hinder 
the same sanctuary embracing all these and ourselves, 
had we not flung our catholicity away, and stereotyped 
ourselves into Unitarianism ? If there is one persuasion 
that has sunk deeper than another into the heart of this 
age, it is that God and man find each other somewhere 
else than in theology, that the religion of opinion is 
superficial, and that to rise into unity of faith we must 


transcend and forget the life of the creeds. This per- 
suasion, now the living spring of all educated religion, 
we should never have quitted as our guide. But its 
flow was too irregular for ils ; its leaps were too bold ; 
its wanderings too great ; so we cut our precise canal, 
and got the water of life between our own straight banks. 
We are, therefore, just like other sects, and have come to 
think it best to be so. There was a difference ; but now 
it is the same ; and those who still indulge the vision of 
a nobler life are rebuked in the shrill tones of old Mother 
Church for ' arrogating ' to themselves more spiritual 
and more catholic aims, and ' only wounding and aliena- 
ting those with whom they have long been connected.' 
What better illustration can I give of the temper which 
doctrinal zeal produces, and which catholic charity 
deplores ? 

To this may be appended an extract from a letter 
to the Patriot, evoked by the comments of that 
journal on the new movement.^ 

On the juass of congregations where at present Unitarian 
opinion prevails, the effect intended would be to prevent that 
opinion fastening itself by the vote of a majority upon their 
ecclesiastical life, and to leave them as free to quit Unitarianism 
as they are to enter it. The constitution of these congregations, 
based simply upon the religion of Christ, does not include the 
determination of doctrme among the corporate functions of 
the society, but leaves the whole realm of special opinion to the 
individual conscience, and the play of individual sympathy. 
With this constitution (which is not an invention of ours but an 
inherited trust), we think it hardly consistent that the common 
fund and congregational name should be pledged to any dogmatic 
propagandism, Trinitarian or Unitarian. You say this move- 
ment proceeds from ' hatred of orthodoxy.' Among ourselves 
the objection is that it ' favours orthodoxy,' making provision 
for our congregations ' going back ' as well as ' going forwards.'* 

1 Inquirer, May 5. 

2 This consequence Mr. Martineau was quite ready to face 
since he first examined the question raised by the Hewley ceise. 
See his letter to the Liverpool Mercury, 1834, ante, chap. VII. 
p. 213, where the transition of a chapel at Wigan from Unitarian 
founders to Trinitarian occupants was justified. 


It expresses neither hatred nor favour towards any doctrinal 
scheme into which Christian conviction may throw itself, but 
simply absolute trust in the force of divine truth wherever it 
may he, and belief in a permanent Christian life and faith through 
the intellectual changes of theology. 

The result was reached a year later. At the 
Annual Meeting of the Association, June 12, 1867, 
the recommendations of the special Committee 
were adopted, and the principle of congregational 
representation was dropped. In supporting this 
step, Mr. Martineau repelled with some warmth 
the charge that the conception of religious fellow- 
ship on which it was founded, involved laxity in 
the declaration of personal belief.^ 

It has been supposed that this principle would lead to a certain 
degree of neutraUty, coldness, and indifference, as to the propaga- 
tion of doctnnes. I boldly maintain that it is the only principle 
consistent with perfect outspokenness, definiteness, clearness, 
and zeal, in the propagation of particular doctrines. So long as 
I understand that when I am in the pulpit I commit nobody, 
that I speak for nobody but my.self, that I am only explaining 
that which my own conscience obliges me to leach, so long I 
speak definitely and distinctly : I have no hesitation, I have 
nobody to consult but my own conscience. So long as I know 
that the members of my congregation are not committed or com- 
promised by anything I say, I teach my Unitarianism, or whatever 
it may be, with perfect distinctness. But if I felt as a minister 
that I was the head of a society, if I supposed that I was 
actually conducting it, as it were, through a kind of theological 
history which I was fixing, and which I should be unable to 
reverse, I should feel a degree of scruple and hesitation, and 
should be disposed to stifle these distinctions of doctrine. It 
is well known to Mr. Aspland and the members of the Society 
that for years past I personally have been withheld from active 
co-operation in the Society precisely upon this scruple. I have 
always said in the strongest way, ' In doctrine I am entirely 
with you, T am a Unitarian, I think the principles of Unitarianism 
are of great importance.' I have again and again in private 
and in public advocated those principles, and it is a shame that 
those of us who hesitate to commit our congregations to them, 
should be exposed to the calumny of caring nothing for our 
theological opinions. 

^Inquirer, June 15. 


Two years later he fully justified this attitude 
by preaching before the Association the noble sermon 
on ' Three Stages of Unitarian Theology.'^ 


The issue of the movement just described did not, 
unhappily, fulfil its promoter's hopes. Two days 
after the British and Foreign Unitarian Association 
had yielded to his urgency, and surrendered all 
claims to congregational organisation, a meeting 
was held (June 14) in the library at Manchester 
New College at University HaU, ' to consider the 
means of forming a closer union among Liberal 
Christian Churches and persons for the promotion 
and apphcation of ReUgion in Life, apart from 
doctrinal limitations in Thought.' An unfortunate 
difficulty arose at the outset. A resolution declaring 
it incumbent on all who comprehended the essence 
of reUgion in the two great affections of love to God 
and love to man to unite their scattered forces for 
closer communion in work and worship, was moved 
by Mr. Martineau, seconded by Mr. Herbert New, 
of Evesham, and supported by the Rev. W. Kirkus, 
a Congregational minister of Hackney. It did 
not contain the term Christian. Mr. Thom enquired 
whether it was desired to establish a Catholic 
Christian Church, or a Cathohc human Church, 
affirming his own readiness to join either. Mr. 
Tayler, to whose co-operation Mr. Martineau 
attached the greatest weight, pleaded strongly for 
the dear and sacred name : ' if we look into the 

» May 19, 1869 : Essays, iv. 567. 


essence of Christianity as taught and exemplified 
by Christ, its result is nothing more than the purest 
expression of the universal theism which the Al- 
mighty Father has breathed into the souls of us all.' 
They were not in quest of abstract systems of 
philosophy ; they were attempting to draw together 
in bonds of universal communion all who felt that 
the Ufe of Christ was the best expression of the moral 
perfections of the Father in heaven.^ This friendly 
pressure, and the Chairman's remark that they were 
summoned to form a union of ' Liberal Christian 
Churches,' to which Mr. Martineau was too good 
a constitutionalist not to bow, led to the insertion 
of the name ; and at a meeting at the Freemasons' 
Tavern, Great Queen Street, on Nov. 21, a definitive 
scheme was adopted. Its religious basis was thus 
expressed*^ : — 

Whereas, for ages past. Christians have been taught that 
correct conceptions of Divine things are necessary to acceptance 
■with God, and to religious relations with each other ; 

And, in vain pursuit of Orthodoxy, have parted into rival 
Churches, and lost the common bond of work and love ; 

And whereas, with the progressive changes of thought and 
feehng, uniformity in doctrinal opinion becomes ever more pre- 
carious, while moral and spiritual affinities grow and deepen ; 

And whereas the Divine Will is summed up by Jesus Christ 
himself in Love to God and Love to Man ; 

And the terms of pious union among men should be as Droad 
as those of communion with God ; 

This Society, desiring a spiritual fellowship co-extensive with 
these terms, invites to common action all who deem men respon- 
sible, not for the attainment of divine truth, but only for the 
serious search for it ; and who rely, for the reUgious improvement 
of human life, on fiUal Piety and brotherly Charity, with or with- 
out more particular agreement in matters of doctrinal theology. 
Its object is, by reheving the Christian life from reliance on theo- ■ 
logical articles or external rites, to save it from conflict with the 
knowledge and conscience of mankind, and bring it back to 
the essential conditions of harmony between God and Man. 

1 Inquirer, June 22. 2 Essays, ii. 509. 


By thus definitely adopting the Christian name, 

the new Union started under a hmitation which 

not only deprived it of the co-operation of teachers 

with whom its foimder was in deep personal S37m- 

pathy, hke Francis Newman and Miss Cobbe, but 

seemed in some eyes a violation of the broadest 

principles of religious fellowship as expressed by 

Jesus himself. To Mr. Newman he thus sought 

to justify the position. 

London, Oct. 31. 1S68. 

I -was particularly glad to see, in fuU and definite statement, 
your objection to the Free Christian Union and its name. If 
it were nece-ssary to retain, in the word ' Christian ' its Messianic 
meaning, or to abandon it to its orthodox abuse, as carrying a, 
set of dogmatic cind historical beliefs, I should go with you in 
almost everything you say. But ' Christ ' has become to all 
intents and purposes a personal name, and is continually used 
as such by people who have no belief in a ' Messiah ' at all. And 
1 use the word ' Christian ' to denote that the religion on which 
I rest is the residuary truth left me out of the piety and faith 
of Christendom, when purified from their errors and fables : 
and I prefer thus to own ray spiritual inheritance, and to abjure 
the pretence, involved in abstract and doctrinal terms (like 
' Theist '), of having philosophically worked out ah initio a religion 
for myself. I have not the faintest reluctance to own spiritual 
brotherhood with those who, with a different religious ancestry, 
or without any at all — genuine God-given avroxOove^ — meet 
upon the same strand of faith and love. And I am far from 
doubting that there are occasions when this drawing together 
of foreigners for a common spiritual sympathy and recognition 
is of great interest and moment : e.g., in India, and all our Indian 
relations. But, as a rule, it is, I think, practically wiser for each 
type to work upon its own line, and develop its own resources. 
The Indian Theist must appeal to a native literature, to native 
authorities and admirations, and must deal with evils on the spot ; 
— all quite different from the influences, sentiments, and sins 
prevailing here. We have enough to do upon the field of the 
Christian Churches into which we were bom : and did we plant 
ourselves outside of them, for the chance of occasional action 
on a Jew or a Mahomedan, we should sacrifice the nearer and 
larger duty for the more remote and hypothetical. The Umits 
which, for the ends of practical convenience, we impose upon 
our working scheme, in no way involve any hmitation of prin- 
ciple : nor is there anything to prevent half-a-dozen Unions 


equally Catholic, from separately operating in as many fields 
similarly enclosed within some line of natural and effective 
sympathy. They would form so many independent elements 
of an ultimately federated Society. 

' But how can you ignore the fact that some whom you would 
fain include will not call themselves Christians ? ' We do not 
ignore it ; but, on the other side, we find that many more whom 
we would fain include, will not call themselves, or any religious 
union they join, anything else : — ^Mr. Tayler, e.g., who is bent 
on rescuing the word ' Christian ' from Protestant bondage 
to the Scriptures and ecclesiastical associations with dogmatic 
schemes. Else, for myself, though m sympathy with this view, 
I would adopt any name which would draw you into our brother- 
hood : for you are about the best Christian I know. 

Thanks for the Irish Church letter, which seems to me to state 
the case with absolute truth, and to put aU the nonsense to shame. 
Believe me ever, dear Newman, 

Yours affectionately, 

James Martineau. 

These arguments were elaborated with other 
pleas in a pamphlet, published early in 1869, entitled 
' The New Affinities of Faith.'^ They failed, how- 
ever, to awaken enthusiasm. A few University 
men of high distinction like Mr. Henry Sidgwick 
and Mr. Goldwin Smith, gave in their adhesion.^ 
At an anniversary service on June i, 1869, there 
was a large congregation drawn from the various 
sects, when the Rev. W. MiaU (Baptist), of Queen's 
Road Chapel, Dalston, was associated with Mr. 
Martineau in the opening devotions, and sermons 
were preached by M. Athanase Coquerel, of the 
French Protestant Church, and the Rev. C. Kegan 

1 Essays, ii. 499. 

2 • Mr. Froude writes to me that it is the one movement of the 
day which he regards with unqualified interest and sympathy, 
and from which he anticipates, not indeed large and early visible 
success, but a real and living action on reUgious reform and 
conservatioii ' (letter to J. E. Carpenter, Nov. 5, 1868). A little 
later Mr. Martineau could say to the Rev. W. Knight (July 25, 
1870) that 'representative men joined it from every British 
Church ' : Inter Amicos, p. 33. 


Paul, Vicar of Sturminster Marshall, Dorset. But 
meanwhile a stream of acrid criticism was slowly 
poured on the new movement. The denominational 
journals were inevitably hostile, for it proposed to 
render their functions needless, or at least to trans- 
form their spirit. Only one or two scattered con- 
gregations sought to enter its fellowship.^ It was 
accused of endeavouring to found a Universal 
Church on the aristocratic basis of an annual guinea 
pa5mient ; and when the force of this objection was 
admitted by a change of rule, it was easy to drive 
fresh wedges into a somewhat over-elaborated 
constitution. At the Great Queen Street Meeting 
it had been made clear that the Union involved a 
protest against the principle of doctrinal subscrip- 
tion ; and the incisive language of the ' New Affini- 
ties ' further alienated some of the Broad Churchmen 
from whom help was sought. When the writer, de- 
scribing the changes of behef, declared that ' it is no 
longer an insult to a clergjmian's honour, but rather 
a compliment to his inteUigence, to suspect him of 
saying one thing and believing another,'^ he forgot 
to ask himself whether the irony of his censure 
would promote the cause of ' union.' Its light of 
hope was darkened when Mr. Tayler died. Its 
Committee comprised faithful and devoted men, 
but they had neither the time nor the energy needful 
to guide the enterprise out of its obscurity into 
more effective action. They might exchange letters 

1 At Little Portland Street a Congregational Meeting was held 
on May 19, 1869, to consider the proposal. But the Pastor's 
eloquence did not overcome objections. 

^Essays, ii. 501. 


of sympathy with France and Holland, Germany 
and Switzerland : but this was too impalpable a 
nutriment for continued subsistence. The Union 
languished, for though it invited men to ' common 
action,' it could find nothing satisfactory to do : 
the day of international gatherings had not arrived. 
And the plea of the founder, that the Theists must 
work independently of the Christians, admitted 
that after all there were divergences of historic 
estimate which personal S5rmpathies could not always 
overcome. Between the humanitarian and the 
Nicene views of the person of Jesus was a still wider 
gap. Who could wonder that it was not bridged 
at once ? On Dec. 8, 1870, a special meeting was 
held, and the Free Christian Union was dissolved. 
To Mr. Martineau this issue was a deep and lasting 
disappointment. But the objects of the Union 
had never really been put before the congregations 
for whose organisation he had been originally 
concerned. Twenty years later, with courage still 
unspent, he was to make a further effort. He would 
seek to group the Churches founded on open trusts 
in a general scheme of mutual co-operation and sup- 
port ; and he would, with yet more fertility of 
resource, propose to federate the historic bodies 
among which English Christianity was divided, 
into a National Church. After all, he could never 
be content with a simply personal religion. The 
passionate aspiration after fellowship, human and 
divine, only ceased with his last breath. 



The twelve years which followed Mr. Martineau's 
removal to London, 1857-1869, were occupied with 
twofold work as Lecturer on Philosophy, and (from 
1859 onwards) as Minister of Little Portland Street 
Chapel.^ This double duty so absorbed his time 
as to leave little margin for continuous writing. 
The stream of Essays which he contributed to the 
National Review came to an end in 1864 ; not because 
the writer was exhausted, but because the Review 
ceased to appear. Meanwhile he slowly added to 
his College courses, and continuously kept large 
designs before him. Already in 1861 he wrote : — 

I have reached an age when many an unfinished scheme looks 
up at me with the appeal of warning as well as reproach ; and if 
I aun to gather up the results of study, and leave anything more 
respectable than a series of fragments and unfulfilled promises, 
I must call in my dispersed efforts, and limit myself to the 
completion of what I have begun.^ 

On the death of the Rev. J. J. Tayler in 1869 
Mr. Martineau was appointed Principal of the College, 
and the Rev. James Drummond, B.A., in due course 

1 See ante. chap. XIT. 
* Quoted by ' A Humble Admirer," Scotsman, Jan. 19, 1900. 


accepted the vacant chair of New Testament History 
and criticism. 


In the autumn of 1868 Mr. James Knowles hap- 
pened to be entertaining Mr. Tennyson and the Rev. 
Charles Pritchard, Savihan Professor of Astronomy. 
Their talk ranged over speculative themes, and ended 
in a proposal to found a society for the discussion of 
questions of theology. Mr. Knowles consulted his 
friends from Dean Stanley to Archbishop Manning 
and Mr. Martineau. The latter was unwilling to 
join ' a society of gnostics to put down agnostics,'^ 
and the scheme was enlarged till it included a 
comprehensive representation of aU schools of 
thought, theological and scientific,^ and took the 
name of the Metaphysical Society. At the meetings 
of this Society (the first was held on April 21, 1869) 
Mr. Martineau was a constant attendant. Here he 
stepped out of the atmosphere of a small religious 
fellowship, and moved among his peers in thought. 
Here he formed many a valued friendship, the most 
cherished of all, perhaps, being that with Father 
Dalgaims. Here he met the criticisms of the 
champions of science like Professors Huxley, Tyndall, 
and Chfford ; and here again and again he produced 
a deep impression by his mastery of argument and 
his skill in debate.* His first contribution was read 

1 Mr. Tennyson's avowed purpose was to check the growth 
of Agnosticism. 

* The list published by Mr. Knowles, Nineteenth Century, 
August, 188s, includes 59 members. 

, 3 ■ The noble and steadfast, but somewhat melancholy faith,' 
wrote Mr. R. H. Hutton, ' which seemed to be sculptured on 


on June 15, 1870, 'Is there any Axiom of Causality ? ''• 
It may have been evoked by a discussion a few 
months before, which he thus reported in a letter 
to an old student, the Rev. R. A. Armstrong, on 
March 13, 1870 : — 

In a kind of dialogue with Tyndall at the last meeting of the 
Metaphysical Society, I drew from him these acknowledgments. 

(i) That the phenomenal doctrine of Antecedent and Con- 
sequent is inadequate for the Scientific man, and that the as- 
sumption of force is indispensable : 

(2) That this, however, is an assumpHnn furnished by necessity 
of reason, and not a physically observed fact : 

(3) That however far physiological scrutiny might be pushed 
into the interior of the brain, it could never find a Sensation 
or a Thought, or make out why one cerebral change is attended 
with Vision, another with Sound ; so that there must for ever 
remain a world cognizable by Self -consciousness alone, and carry- 
ing its own axioms. 

I thought these very remarkable concessions, from a man so 
dedicated to physical pursuits : though he does not himself 
see to what they lead. 

The doctrine of Causation had, of course, long 
engaged his thought, since the early Liverpool days 
when he used to set his pupils to read the lectures 
of Dr. Thomas Brown. It had lain in the back- 
ground of many an essay, notably those on Comte, 
Mill, and Bain. More than once he had discussed 
it with Dr. W. B. Carpenter, in connection with 
problems of physiological psychology, and to him 
he thus wrote on March 24, 1870 : 

I distinguish between the muscular sensations (which occur 
during the execution of an act), and the muscular nisus (which 
sets the act on foot). The former alone would, in my opinion, 
no more give us the knowledge of power, than any other sensory 
impressions. The latter would give it, even if the sensory nerves 
were paralysed. Will effectuated and Will impeded, be the 

Dr. Martineau's massive brow, shaded off into wistfulness in 
the glance of his eyes.' Nineteenth Century, August, 1885, p. 181. 
1 Essays, iii. 567. The share of Mr. Huxley in the discussioa 
is described in a letter to the Rev. C. Wicksteed, Life, ii. 374. 


intermediate instruments sentient or insentient, would suffice, 
I think, to occasion the dynamic antithesis of power within 
and power without. Take away the inward nisus of the Will ; 
let the motory nerves be set in action by galvanism instead ; 
and however perfectly the sensory nerves retain their function, 
I conceive that all dynamic ideas are out of reach. 

In short, we exercise power within, and plant it out believingly 
in the world. We have no means, independent of this translation, 
of perceiving, observing, or inductively inferring it in the external 
scene. Mere motion would not help us, even though it hurt us 
or gratified us. The experiences to which you appeal are not 
mere sensory experiences ; they are a counterplay against the 
muscular nisus. 

On the other hand , we have the means of perceiving, observingj 
etc., form, etc., outside of us. Hence the cognition of form and the 
cognition of power appear to me not to stand on the same line. 

To the same correspondent he further defined 
his position, in a criticism of the address which Dr. 
Carpenter had delivered as President of the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science, at 
Brighton, on ' Man the Interpreter of Nature.'^ 

Bont Ddu, Dolgelley, Sept. 8, 1872. 
For Science, in its researches into Nature, I do not see how 
we can claim more than access to the Laws of phenomena, in 
their grouping and succession : nor can I hesitate to accept 
the Positivist dictum that Causes lie entirely beyond scientific 
cognizance. Our own Causality, as you justly say, we do directly 
know : but causality other than our own we do not know by either 
observation or consciousness : we observe only movements ; 
we feel only certain sensations of our own ; both of which are 
phenomena and not their causes : and our reference of such things 
to an objective causality which is not in our experience is, I take it, 
an intuitive Intellectual act, planting outside of us the counterpart 
and antithesis of the power which we put forth from within. 
If the authority of this intellectual act, as a prior condition of our 
thinking of phenomena at all, is denied, no ground whatever 
appears to me to remain for ' dynamical laws ' ; and either Mill 
or Biichner would easily throw back your second class into the 
first. They would ask what more you find in the ' conditions 
of the action of a force ' than the concurrence or sequence of 
phenomena, i.e., than the ' laws of phenomena ' ; and would 
protest that the ' direct consciousness ' to which you appeal 
is still nothing but an order of feelings, i.e., of internal ' phe- 
nomena ' : and on the ground of scientific experience and method, 

^ Nature and Man, Essays by W. B. Carpenter, 1888, p. 185. 



I really do not see how an answer could be given to this. Besides 
Mill's reduction of all mathematical and physical axioms to in- 
ductions on observed uniformities, we have now Continental 
physiciens calling in question Newton's first law of motion ; so 
that, among those who decline aU obligations to metaphysical 
assumptions, the distinction which you would draw between 
Kepler's laws and Newton's is being broken down. As to Biichner, 
since he contends, as you do, for our scientific knowledge of 
' Force ' (as well as ' Matter '), and therefore does not stop short 
with your first class of ' Laws ', but proceeds to the second, I do 
not see why he may not with you speak of such Laws as ' govern- 
ing ' or ' explaining ' phenomena. 

So much for my old client. Metaphysics v. Physics. He is 
always bothering you, if you try to dispense with him. 

In the spring of 1872 Dr. Martineau published a 
lecture entitled The Place of Mind in Nature and 
of Intuition in Man,^ which involved a criticism 
of current hypotheses of evolution. It attracted 
considerable attention, and Mr. Knowles remarked 
to Mr. Herbert Spencer in an after-dinner conversa- 
tion at Prof. Huxley's, ' The general opinion is 
that you gentlemen are getting the worst of it.'* 
Mr. Spencer, accordingly, published a criticism in 
the Contemporary, June, 1872. It did not daunt the 
metaphysician. ' Herbert Spencer's paper in the last 
number,' he wrote to the Rev. Wm. Knight,* June 15, 
' ought perhaps to have some reply ; and I have 
pretty well made up my mind what to say. But I am 
too busy winding up the College Session to work out 

^ Essays, iv. 585. * Spencer, Autobiography, vol. ii. p. 245. 

» With Mr. Knight, then minister of St. Enoch's (Free Kirk), 
Dundee, Dr. Martineau had formed, towards the end of the 
' sixties,' an intimate friendship. Mr. Knight had with great cour- 
age borne testimony to his personal reverence for Dr. Martineau, 
and his desire for a wider church fellowship, by preaching at Little 
Portland St. Chapel in May, 1873. The ecclessiastical conse- 
quences of this act were followed by Dr. Martineau in a copious 
correspondence of sympathy and counsel. Earlier letters will 
be found in the volume issued by Prof. Knight under the title 
Inter Amicos, 1901 ; others in Prof. Knight's Retrospects, vol. i., 
and in the Life, ii. 


my defence for the July number : and I doubt 
whether I shall care enough about it to take it iip later. 
Nothing that Spencer urges has the least effect upon 
me. Yet in general I am only too easily knocked 
down, and brought to believe myself demolished.' 

As the College session reached its close in June, 
a great surprise awaited the Principal. Mr. W. J. 
Lamport, of Liverpool, with a few private words 
in the Library, conveyed to him the information 
that a number of his friends desired to repair the 
shortcomings of the past, and to express their feelings 
of gratitude and affection, respect and admiration, 
by a gift which should lighten the cares of his remain- 
ing years.^ To this gift the following letters refer. 
To the Rev. Wm. Knight. 
Glangwynnant, near Beddgelert, July 6, 1872. 

We arrived last evening, descending from the pass of Pen-y- 
Gwryd during the most gorgeous sunset sending its glories through 

1 The total sum ultimately exceeded ^5,900, of which a small 
portion was appropriated to two pieces of silver plate. The 
letter of the donors (with a list of their names) and Dr. Mar- 
tineau's reply were printed in a small pamphlet. — Just at the 
same time, on June 26, Harvard University conferred on him 
the honorary degree of LL.D. ' Two years later I was among 
the foreigners invested with the Degree of Doctor of Theology 
by the University of Leyden, on occasion of its Tercentenary 
celebration. Both these honours took me entirely by surprise, 
and compensated me in age for the Academic disabilities under 
which, as a Nonconformist, I had laboured in my youth. And 
the second was especially gratifying, as I was associated in it 
with so accomplished a scholar and divine as the Master of Beilliol.' 
Other dignities followed; D.D., Edinburgh, 1884; D.C.L., 
Oxfoid, 1888 ; Litt.D., Dublin, 1892. (Biographical Memor 
anda). In taking leave of the College Trustees, June, 1885, 
Dr. Martineau said, ' I shall always regard the resolution you 
have now passed as the final diploma of my career — a diploma 
which adds no fresh letters to be appended to one's name, but 
which proceeds from a source, and expresses a sentiment, more 
precious to me than any honours received from more conspicuous 
but more distant witnesses of my life.' 


the transverse valleys of Snowdon. Our little cottage, planted 
on a platform of rock which has furnished its material, and 
flanked by a wooded hillside, looks down over its garden lawn 
and shrubberies on the lake about fifty feet below, and on the 
river opening from it, which gleams at intervals through the 
trees, and makes its flow audible all night. It is a lovely spot, 
and seems to waken one into the rcEil world and dismiss the 
London noise as a troubled dream. Yet I must not speak 
ungratefully of the agitating interests of my last week in town. 
For among them was one,^-of which perhaps you will shortly see 
some notice in the public prints, — that could not fail to affect me 
with grateful .surprise. A number of Friends, desiring to secure 
to me a period of unanxious life at the close, and to place some- 
thing in my power for my childTen, have presented me with a 
purse of 5,000 guineas, and a piece of memorial plate ; excusing 
their benevolence by the pretext that, had I been in one of the 
secular professions, I should have been in a position to make 

affluent provision for my family I shall have to consider 

how far this new trust, — for such it is, — may alter the duties of 
my remaining years. 

About Herbert Spencer's paper I should have distrusted my 
own judgment, had it not been confirmed by yours. The very 
slight impression it produced on me made me feel that I could 
not have thoroughly understood it : for I cannot help looking 
up to him as a superior intelligence, whose apprehensions have 
always a presumption m their favour against my own. But 
on the other hand I see that he has been so full of his own last 
exposition of his doctrine, as to suppose himself the object 
of attack in my paper and to read between the lines criticisms 
which I had never thought of ; and that this personal suscepti- 
bility has interfered with his grasp of the Eirgument as a whole, 
and misled him into a set of irrelevant and not always candid 
strictures on collateral issues. I have not entirely abandoned 
the idea of some reply ; and in a day or two, when I get my 
goods unpacked and in order, I hope to look the matter in the 
face, and, if it seems desirable, prepare a few pages for the next 

To Mrs. Henry Turner, Nottingham. 

Beddgelert, Aug. 14, 1872. 
My dear Cousin, 

The wonderful presentation which has surprised the evening 
of my life, and provided such repose as it may need, is more affect- 
ing to me than I can tell. But the tones of sympathy which 
belong to the voices of early years, and can come only from the 
one or two who have known my inward as well as outward history 
from the beginning, are precious and sacred as no others can be. 
Your affectionate words deeply touch us both. Yes, your memory 
is true : and yon, and your pure-souled husband are intimately 
associated with the change of character which determined the 


colour of my whole after-life. The fifty years which have since 
elapsed are crossed by many shadows of unrealized aspiration 
and humbUng recollection : but a certain unity runs through 
them, as the fulfilment, however imperfect, of a congenial purpose 
early taken up and followed with unabated love to the present 
hour. This privilege, accorded by the Providence of my life, — 
of working in the field of my chief enthusiasm, is the source of 
the only service I could ever render to others. 

An act of recognition, Uke the recent one, usually comes at 
the end of the drama, just before the curtain drops. So I have 
asked myself, ' Are the sands then run out ? and ought I to regard 
my dismissal as come ? ' But after allowing for the common 
saying that ' Age has no eyes to see itself,' I cannot persuade 
myself that I ought to quit the field of active duty, while unable 
to plead exhaustion, and not conscious of standing in the way 
of younger efficiency. The later years are not less a trust for use, 
than the earlier : so, till the faculty of work declines, the obliga- 
tion to work continues. Should time be granted, some of the 
faults and omissions of the past may yet be repaired. Otherwise 
1 am ready to step aside, and await the end, out of sight and as 
one already removed from the present. 

The reply which Dr. Martineau proposed to make 
to Mr. Spencer, was never written. Warnings of 
illness compelled him again and again during the 
vacation to abandon his desk, and seek relief on the 
mountains or the lake. The crisis arrived at the 
railway-station at Leeds, and its sequel — the abrupt 
cessation of his ministry — has been already related.^ 
To his College labours the event made no difference. 
When the decision was once made, he was punctual 
in each duty as before. But on the lost opportunity 
of setting himself right against Mr. Spencer he 
looked back with regret ; for he wrote a year later, 
Oct. 12, 1873, to an old student, — ' His paper, I 
know, produced a great impression upon some 
very competent readers. For my own part, I could 
not see how it touched the main argument at all : 
and that so able a man should say so much that 

1 Ante, chap. XII. p. 439. 


has no relevance to my intended line of thought, 
I take as a humiliating proof of my unskilfulness 
in bringing out my meaning.'^ 

The next controversial episode, however, left no 
doubt that his powers were still unimpaired. At 
the opening of the College Session in October, 1874, 
he deUvered an Address on Religion as affected by 
Modern Materialism.^ It was suggested by the 
brilliant discourse of Prof. Tyndall to the British 
Association, and evoked from him a vigorous reply.* 
To this in due course came an elaborate rejoinder, 
under the title Modern Materialism : its Attitude 
towards Theology.^ These articles made their writer 
better known than any previous essays. They 
were not buried in obscure quarterlies : philosophy 
had emerged from academic seclusion, and entered 
the arena of public debate. The eminence of Prof. 
Tyndall secured attention to his critic,^ whose 
unexpected mastery of scientific detail, as well as 
of metaphysical reasoning, excited the surprise 

1 The disputants had met that summer at a friendly pic-nic 
on Lochan Eilan in the valley of the Spey, where Dr. Martineau, 
having another attack of ' Caledonian fever,' was staying near 
Aviemore, and Mr. Spencer was the guest of Mr. Robert Holt. 
Autobiography, vol. ii. p. 252. 

^Essays, iv. 165. ^Fortnightly Review, November, 1875. 

* Essays, iv. 197. First published in the Contemporary Review, 
and then issued separately, April, 1876. 

5 Mr. Spencer was not forgotten. Essays, iv. 216. — ^Writing to 
Mr. B. B. Wiley, Chicago, in Jime, 1875, he remarked : ' I am 
more and more struck with the fact, that it is not new beliefs or 
unbeliefs which a modem age advances into ; but a new generation 
of men that is bom into a recurring drift towards old beliefs 
or unbeliefs. There is, so far as I can see, absolutely nothing 
in our present scientific knowledge, which weakens or changes, 
unless for the better, the philosophical grounds of religion. 
To-day's fear will assuredly pass away. 

§ i] A Study of Spinoza 471 

as well as the admiration of both friends and foes. 
Meanwhile, the veteran Teacher, at threescore years 
and ten, pursued his way, elaborating the materials 
for his systematic works on Ethics and Religion.^ 
Once only was he turned aside into an independent 
path, when his friend. Prof. Knight, induced him 
to undertake a volume on Spinoza for the series of 
' Philosophical Classics.' The task proved longer 
and more laborious than he had foreseen. The 
preliminary biographical studies required consider- 
able research ; he could not be content without 
constructing for himself a complete background 
of contemporary history, for which he must master 
many a duU Dutch page. But he was not daunted 
by any toil that would render his work more 
thorough. In one respect, indeed, he failed. He 
could not condense it within the limits of the pub- 
lishers' plans : and after various attempts at 
compromise the book was issued independently 
in 1882, under the title of A Study of Spinoza. The 
hand that had sketched the delightful portraits 

1 Two more College Addresses rose out of these preliminary 
labours : Ideal Substitutes for God, 1 879 ; and The Relation between 
Ethics and Religion, 1881 : Essays, iv. — In 1875 he had intended 
to retire ; but arrangements were made by which the Rev. 
C. B. Upton, B.A., B.Sc, was associated with him in the earlier 
teaching of the students, leaving the courses on Ethics and the 
Philosophy of Religion still in his hands. He once quoted in 
a speech (Hope St., Dec. 18, 1868) a saying attributed to William 
the Conqueror, when his sons wanted him to retire from the throne 
and divide his prerogatives among them, that ' he was not going 
to undress until he went to bed.' ' And I think it is a good maxim 
for old men, so long as the work is in them, to keep in the field, 
and see if they cannot find some function fitted to their diminished 
powers. With that reserve, I say, let them be ready at any time 
to deUver over the standard to the grasp of the firmer and younger 
hand, and let the younger hand be ready to take it, and carry 
it on to fresh and nobler victories." 


of Lessing and Schleiermacher, had no difficulty 
in producing a narrative full of dramatic charm. 
When a second exposition of the philosophy followed 
in the Types of Ethical Theory (1885), its complete 
independence stamped it as a veritable tour de 
force ; but its point of view remained the same. 
With a delicate appreciation of Spinoza's lofty 
character, and a sincere sympathy with ' those 
wonderful propositions in which the last book of 
Ethics emerges from " geometry " almost into 
rhapsody,' Dr. Martineau could not allow him the 
title either of Theist or Pantheist. He took his 
stand with Kant, and understood the conception of 
God to involve ' not merely a blindly-operating 
Nature as the eternal root of things, but a Supreme 
Being that shall be the Author of all things by free 
and understanding action.'^ For him, as for the 
writer of the Critique of Pure Reason, no other 
conception had any interest ; and to establish it 
on a secure basis of philosophy was to be the object 
of the treatises in which he would sum up the 
results of five and forty years of College teaching.* 


' A nobler and more really fruitful work than the 
training of young men for the Christian ministry,' 
once wrote Dr. Martineau,* ' there can hardly be. 

* A Study of Spinoza, p. 332. It must not be forgotten that 
Dr. Martineau had lived, in his youth, in the English pantheism 
of Priestley (ante, chaps. II. and IV.). From this he had been 
delivered by a new interpretation of his moral consciousness. 

« See chapter XVI. 

8 To the Rev. Principal Witton Davies, Midland Baptist Coll., 
April 28, 1895. 


All knowledge and lines of thought may be made 
tributary to it ; yet none wiU be of much avail 
unless dominated by spiritual experience, and 
applied to the problems of life.' 

The students who were brought into contact 
with Dr. Martineau for the first time, naturally 
approached him with a certain shjmess and hesita- 
tion. His age, his fame, the habitual preoccupations 
of his thought, the nobility of his presence, the 
spiritual elevation of his character, all seemed to 
raise him so far above them as to make personal 
intercourse at first difficult. His own reserve gave 
them no help ; and till they had entered into closer 
relations with him through some common work, 
their feeling was one in which awe mingled with 
admiration. Sometimes, indeed, his intellectual 
force captured their allegiance at once. An old 
student recalled in after years the profound impres- 
sion which he received as an undergraduate, hearing 
his first lecture on Logic, when a whole new world 
was opened before him. ' I was so absorbed in 
the lecture that I could not take a note. 1 was 
all eyes and ears, and as I looked and listened, 
I knew what it was to think for the first time. I 
went out from the lecture-room with so clear an 
image of the thought of the lecturer, that I wrote 
it down without trouble.' Was it surprising that 
pupils in this mood should feel an almost passionate 
emotion of homage to the Teacher, in whom they 
saw an embodiment of mind such as they had never 
known in country homes, or even in the schools or 
colleges where their first youth was trained ? Every 
shade of expression on his face, every tone of his 


deep mellow voice, came to have for them an in- 
exhaustible interest, for they were the signs of a 
kind of elemental force, firing the imagination, 
and stimulating the will. He did more than quicken 
his hearers' faculties, or rouse their emotions : he 
seemed to send some searching influence into the 
very roots of their being, and strengthen the secret 
energies of character. Dignity and lowliness were 
strangely blended ; this life-long study, this vast 
range of knowledge, this profound insight into 
the inmost workings of mind and heart, were all 
for them. He placed his gifts freely at the disposal 
of each, and did not ask a more conspicuous scene. 

Yet as a lecturer he followed a questionable 
method, inherited from an older day. His lectures 
were really books. They were slowly read from 
year to year, without any attempt to make divisions 
of time correspond to divisions of subject. There 
was no direct address ; the diction was elaborately 
ornate ; the slow regularity of dehvery was never 
broken by a question ; the intercourse of mind with 
mind did not enter into his plan ; the hearer was 
left to find his way through his difficulties by himself.^ 
But the great personality could not be hid. The 
punctuality of his arrival, the distinction of his 
manner,^ the ' sumptuous simplicity ' (as one of 
his old students called it) of his apparatus, — the 

1 This was the case even in the reading of bis favourite Plato. 
With the utmost sense of grammatical nicety and fitness of 
rendering, he never turned aside to sum up an argument, or 
expound an idea. 

2 This was in the lecture-room. The pace at which he came 
from his house astonished observers, who called it ' trotting.' 
It was not hurry, but a steady purpose to get along. 


morocco portfolio, the large written page unspoiled 
by correction or erasure, and (in cold weather} 
the ample robe of fur-lined cloth ^ — aU these seemed 
but the external harmony of the inner nobleness 
which gesture and words alike conveyed. He 
made his hearers feel the dignity of his theme ; 
he invited them to discern the beauty of truth 
and righteousness ; he led them along laborious 
ways ; but he inspired the conviction that the 
divine reality for which he pleaded was actually 
there, and could be known. The ivory paper-knife 
which he always held in his right hand, now followed 
the lines of his manuscript, now gently waved like 
the baton of a conductor, summoning the associa- 
tions and feelings needed at the moment to take 
their place in the ' great argument.' ' Martineau's 
genius,' once said his friend Mr. Thom, ' is essentially 

Behind these outward traits, which were not 
casual habits, but were at once recognised as mani- 
festations of the inward spirit, lay the profound 
moral force which pervaded his whole being. ' Of 
my many teachers,' writes Prof. T. Witton Davies, 
' Dillmann at Berlin and Martineau in London 
appear to me now the most deadly in earnest.'* 
As he unfolded the secrets of conscience, and carried 
its inspirations up to the sanctuary of the Most 

1 This was a carefully preserved relic of the Berlin days, 
which he was with difficulty persuaded to wear in this country, 
when such luxuries were more unusual than they are now. 

2 It was probably this earnestness, rather than his intellectual 
force, that made a lay undergraduate once remark, ' Martineau 
is a very bad lecturer, for he makes you feel that he's always 
tight. Now it stands to reason that he can't be always I ' 


High, his voice gained a new poignancy, for it spoke 
with the authority of prophecy,' Thus saith the Lord.' 
To this was joined a marvellous insight into char- 
acter. With a penetration that was a constant 
surprise, he divined the ideas which young minds 
were labouring not so much to express as actually 
to form. Again and again as he summed up a 
College debate, he revealed the speakers to them- 
selves as he presented their pleas with a clearness 
after which they had dimly groped. A mere hint 
sufficed to enable him to comprehend the finest 
subtleties of intellectual perplexity or moral scruple ; 
and even perversity was treated with a tender 
respect so that instead of being suppressed by 
authority, it simply vanished in an ampler air. 
Of such consideration let the following instance 
suffice : — 

I do not know whether I have been too patient and indulgent 
towzirds his state of mind. But his tendencies are so evidently 
religious, his wish for the ministry so strong, and his grasp of 
mind so considerable, that I cannot but hope that he will clear 
himself into the Divine light and love at last. He has suffered 
much from nervous weakness, attended by depression and 
sleeplessness, and a kind of Coleridgian fitfulness or failure of 
will : and the irregularities of attendance and work consequent 
on this have tried us greatly. Nevertheless, his strong clinging 
to us, and his compunction for his own unfulfilled purposes, 
have made me shrink from the responsibility of casting him off. 

To such a mind order, neatness, regularity, atten- 
tion to detail — even to the provision of stationery 
and a Bradshaw for the use of visitors at the annual 
June examinations — were a part of the continuous 
ethical control of life. On positive breaches of 
engagement, such as once or twice occiured, he 
could be severe ; and those who had once seen 
his wrath, provoked it not again. But in difficulty 


or illness his sympathy never failed. Those who 
sought his aid in crises of spiritual trial, could 
never forget the delicacy of his apprehension, the 
depth of his respect for their avowal of moral or 
religious perplexity, the tenderness of his guidance. 
It was the same with tribulations of another sort. 
He would sit by the bed-side of a sick student, 
laugh at his sallies, and confute his Hegelianism, 
and leave the memory of an exquisite graciousness 
to comfort the struggling heart. Among his various 
duties it fell to him to preside at the weekly sermon. 
When these primitive efforts were first read aloud, 
in the CouncU-room of University Hall, he some- 
times permitted himself some epigrammatic comment, 
such as the summary of one discourse as ' The Whole 
Duty of Man in Twenty Minutes ' ; or the remark 
on another (which had dealt largely witli Jewish 
Antiquities), ' Excellent, Mr. — , but I was waiting 
for the sermon ' ; or the comparison of another 
(with a long introduction) to an imposing portico 
hiding very modest premises, or a fourth to ' a 
diorama which moved very fast and had nobody 
to explain it.' He was delighted when the preacher 
for the day pictured the Prodigal amid his ' grunting 
charge.' When an Anglican graduate, preparing 
for Orders, characterised the Gospel according to 
Matthew as the gospel for the rich, Luke as the gospel 
for the poor, and Mark as the gospel for the middle 
classes, he could hardly conceal his amusement. 
But though his humour sometimes flashed out in 
somewhat grim criticisms — an orator on ' Oppressive 
Institutions ' (the Established Church being among 
them) was told he might as well have discoursed 


on ' All the Heroes with red hair,' or ' All the Virtues 
that begin with P ' — his appreciation of sincerity 
of utterance was quick and deep. Any tendency 
to ' effectiveness ' in deUvery was discouraged ; 
' let the matter be better than the manner ' was 
his rule. He took great pains, however, with the 
students' elocution, and sometimes employed not 
inconsiderable powers of mimicry with kindly dis- 
crimination. And when he gave back essay or 
sermon, though his words were few, they conveyed 
a depth of sympathy and encouragement inex- 
pressibly touching to those through whose struggling 
utterance he divined the soxil within. Out of his 
own hfe he quickened theirs, and they knew that 
they had received the greatest gift that knowledge 
and character could give to youth. To the mutual 
interchange in such an hour the following letter 
bears witness. 

To the Rev. R. Travers Herford, B.A. 

The Polchar, Aug. 4, 1886. 
Yon can easily imagine that to one who has no further future 
outlook in this world, the most grateful of all moments must be 
those which more or less redeem his past from the humiliating 
shadows of unrealised aspiration, and let in upon it some un- 
suspected gleam of good. The students with and for whom I 
have so long lived, can never know (for the things closest to my 
heart I have a natural shrinking from setting forth) how they 
have been, and are, the great objects of interest and affection 
to me in life. To know that I have helped them, and here 
and there let fall a seed of fertUe thought which they can nurture 
into any grace or fruit for themselves or others, is the most 
welcome of all supports on the declining path. I do not remember 
the particular Sermon-incident to wluch you refer. But the 
occa.sion was of a kind to lead naturally to that free interchange 
of experiences belonging to different stages of Ufe, which is our 
best way of helping one another. 

From actual fellow-work with his students in 
the Portland Simdav Schools Dr. Martineau was 


obliged to withdraw in the autumn of 1872. But 
he still continued to invite their aid ; he was especi- 
ally interested in their temperance efforts in the 
Band of Hope ; and in planning their future settle- 
ments, in which he took a warm (and often an active) 
interest, he always laid special emphasis on the 
opportunities which they would find for effective 
social work. The student who shrank from intruding 
on his time or thought, and accepted a ; ongregational 
invitation without consulting him, found too late 
that his teacher would gladly have welcomed his 
confidence, and counted that toil light which might 
have smoothed his way. To those who went 
abroad, he cheerfully gave advice about the choice 
of a university, or the planning of courses of reading 
and professional instruction ; and often added 
introductions which opened the way for the young 
theologian into the heart of new disciplines of 
thought and opportunities of valued intercourse. 
Writing to Mr. H. Gow (about to proceed to Berlin) 
in October, 1884, concerning Prof. Pfleiderer, he thus 
linked the practical and the academic together : — 

His direction of philosophical speculation is too Hegelian for 
me to follow with entire sympathy. But in his case, as in that 
of the late Prof. T. H. Green at Oxford, I seem to discern an 
opening through and beyond the proper Hegelian formulas 
into a spiritual region nearly coalescing with the Theism in 
which, as far as I am true to myself and my Christian disciple- 
ship, I live and love and move. It has interested me much to 
see that Prof. Schaarschmidt, of Bonn (whom I knew in Berlin 
thirty-six years ago as a teacher to my children), has courageously 
come out in the Philosiiphische Monatsheftc with a paper ' Fiir 
Widerlegung des Determinismus.' It will doubtless make him 
the butt of all the philosophical faculties, the more so as it is 
not without vulnerable points. But he is made of sturdy stufi, 
and will manfully hold his own. In the present state of European 
opinion, the phenomenon is not without significance. 

Your experience at Bethnal Green will, I am sure, have been 


of the greatest value to you ; for the contact into which it brought 
you with the sadder and more disheartening conditions of human 
life would never quench in you the faith, and, indeed, the discern- 
ing sight, of the divine possibilities still stirring in secret within 
all that unsightliness. On the maintenance of this faith (which 
is self-maintaining the moment we look below the surface), it 
depends whether the world is to be conquered by the spirit of 
Cturist, or to be surrendered to a despairing pessimism. 

As one group after another went forth from the 
little band, he breathed over them in the Farewell 
Service words that sprang from the very depths 
of his being, and left in their hearts a memory of 
commmiion of spirit which no vicissitudes of later 
years could ever dim. Again and again did these 
valedictory addresses^ strengthen the purpose and 
lift up the soul of those who heard them. Occasion- 
ally, too, in devotional meetings within the College 
walls, he would speak, in the intimacies of student- 
life, of the realities of religious experience, with 
a directness and simplicity which more elaborate 
ministrations seemed sometimes to lack : his pupils ' 
knew then that he understood them, and had lived 
their life, and felt the stress of their difficulties. 
When they, too, passed into the great warfare, 
whose aid was given with so much considerateness 
as his ? He welcomed their sermons and their 
books with a generosity that was at once humbling 
and inspiring. To those who returned to teach by 
his side, he extended a supporting sympathy which 
made each meeting a delight. His own methods were 
fixed, but he watched each younger experiment 
with genial interest ; his was the skilled hand that 
drew up College memoranda, and indicated with 

1 Several are now published in the volume on National Dutirs 
and other Sermons. 

{ iii] ' OPEN TRUSTS ' ONCE MORE 481 

delicate felicity the occasional presence of diver- 
gencies of view, or characterised with unerring insight 
the position of each student at the end of an academic 
year ; and his was the heart that never failed to 
understand each personal trial, and show to sorrow 
the way of trust and peace. 


The Principal's first College Address after his 
appointment, ' Why Dissent ? ' (1871), left no doubt 
about his sturdy nonconformity.^ The next year, 
when illness was depressing him, and the grief of 
his surrendered ministry was still fresh, he was 
called into battle once again on behalf of his cherished 
principle of ' open tnists.' Under the energetic 
administration of the Rev. Robert Spears, the 
business of the Unitarian Association was greatly 
extended, and more convenient premises were 
urgently required. A generous supporter, Mr. 
Hopgood, offered £i,ooo towards a new building, 
for which a sum of £20,000 was to be raised. The 
proposal to confer a large permanent endowment 
on the denominational organisation of a group of 
individual subscribers filled Mr. Martineau with 
dismay * 

1 Essays, iv. 147. He had dealt with a similar theme nine years 
earlier, in connexion with a scheme of lectures in 1862 com- 
memorating the ■ Ejected ' of two centuries before. His subject 
was ' Nonconformity in its Relation to the Progressive Element 
in English Society.' 

' Other difficulties had arisen a few months before, which 
had drawn out from him, whUe the wound of the failure of the 
Free Christian Union still galled him, a poignant utterance of 
distress : ' For my own part, I feel that 1 am not the proper 



' Looking upon the Association itself,' he wrote (Nov. 9, 1872), 
' as a temporary necessity, of recent origin, and of doubtful 
duration, I think it would be a serious mistake to provide for it 
as if destined to a perpetuity which certainly its founders never 
contemplated.' ' If a representative builduig is raised at all 
in London,' he urged, ' it ought, I conceive, to represent, not our 
Unitarianism, which is only the more recent phase of our theology, 
but that noble conception of a CathoUc Christianity, with a 
progressive theology, which preceded and won our present 
opinions, and which we have no right to pronounce permanently 
identified with them. The great mass of our congregations 
are the ofispiing of this conception, and as its custodians are 
bound to keep it to the front, and hand it down from generation 
to generation : and everything which tempts them to put it aside 
in feivour of an endowment of their own creed, offers however 
unintentionally, a direct inducement to unfaithfulness.'^- 

At the ensuing Annual Meeting, in June, 1873, 
when Mr. Hopgood brought forward his scheme with 
great courtesy and respect. Dr. Martineau moved 
an amendment. His speech weis afterwards described 
by Dr. Bellows, assuredly no mean judge, as ' wonder- 
fully clever, having all the merits of a carefully 
prepared argimient, and all the freshness and play- 
fulness of an extempore utterance.' ^ While earnestly 
desiring to see ample provision made for the wants 
of the Association, he added in a strain which 
would be sounded at intervals for yet a quarter of 
a century, — 

I do not expect to see the views that I have advocated this 
day ultimately prevail ia our body, and I shall take my leave of 
this subject on that account with somewhat of melancholy. I 

person to play the part of censor towaros the B. & F.U.A. It 
would at once be said that I had not forgotten my old quarrel 
with it. This is simply nonsense. But I cannot afiect to have 

any .sympathy with the Association and its annual 

meetings sink me into the profoundest depression, and make me 
feel — no, 1 will not say it : I have my post assigned, and mean 
to die at it.' (Letter to the Rev. R. A. Armstrong, May 18 ,1872). 

1 Inquirer, Nov. 23, 1872. 

* In the Liberal Christian, New York. 


have a deep attachment to the old, large, Catholic principle ; 
and I believe that if we are faithful to it, the history of our 
Churches is not closed, that it has a future before it, — a future 
that will carry us far beyond the limits of our definitions of 
Unitarian Christianity. It has grown to that point in the past ; 
I believe it will grow to yet nobler and better positions in the 
future. I do not at all events expect to see it. I know that 
my hour is drawing nigh, and, if it be needful, I am ready to 
retire from the sectarian contentions that are becoming in our 
country the scorn of intellectual men, and the life-long affliction 
of the earnest and pious, to dream, for the rest of my time, of 
that Kingdom of God for which I have ever prayed, but which 
has ever seemed to recede from behind, and to lie only within 
the folds of the dark future.^ 

Three years later, when a controversy arose over 
proposals for the publication of Parker's works 
by the Association, Dr. Martineau wrote to the Rev. 
R. L. Carpenter, expressing his earnest desire for 
some other form of union for the work of their 

London, April 6, 1876. 
After all, this discussion brings it home to us, how very fine 
the distinction is becoming between the Theism that declines 
and the Theism that keeps the name of ' Christian ' : and Parker 
seems to stand with a foot on each side of the Une. To Voysey's 
Church I presume the B. & F. U. A. could not make a grant. 
Yet Voysey's theology is throughout identical with Parker's : 
the difference is not real, but simply nominal, — in the retention 
or foregoing of the word ' Christian.' It would appear therefore 
that the very same type of theology which is to-day disqualified 
for sharing in the funds of the Association, may to-morrow 
establish a claim upon them by simply calling itself ' Christian.' 
Such difi&culties are inseparable, in the last resort, from the 
working of such organisations. I wish we were well rid of them ; 
and had some basis of union as broad as in our separate old 
congregations, — a union for Church business and work and counsel 
without reference to theology at all, except so far as it tacitly 

1 Inquirer, June 7, 1873. The amendment of Dr. Martineau 
was defeated by 61 to 55 ; but the Previous Question was after- 
wards carried by a large majority. At a subsequent date 
Lindsey's chapel in Essex Street was converted into Essex Hall, 
and conveyed to Trustees on a broad trust such as Dr. Martineau 
had indicated, with due provision for the accommodation of the 


entered into the general conditions of sympathy and possibilities 
of common action. 

Profoundly as I am attached to the Christian inheritance, 
from personal feeling and social conviction of its vital importance, 
.1 do not find that to individuals it makes any serious difference 
in the religious life, whether they keep or whether they resign 
the name. Between Theodore Parker and Miss Cobbe my natural 
.sympathies in religion draw no distinction ; nor should I know, 
were I not told, which of them continued on the Christian line. 

For this large Catholicity he pleaded in a letter 
published with Dean Stanley's address on Baxter, 
in Macmillan's Magazine, September, 1875, which 
drew forth a criticism from the venerable Samuel 
Sharpe, and a reply in turn once more distinguishing 
between the union of a Christicin Church and the 
adoption of a doctrinal name.^ This was again 
the theme of a significant letter on the limits of 
common worship,^ in which he defined his attitude 
to Theism — ' It. is not that their religion is different, 
but that they assign it to a different source ' — 
and again restated his position : — 

In short, the choice has to be made. You may devote a 
Church to the enduring life of religion, which persists through 
changing theologies ; or to a given theology, with such religion 
as in its day it can manage to hold. But you cannot combine 
both methods ; since the trustful piety of the former consists 
in renouncing the comfortable securities of the latter. My own 
allegiance is unreservedly given to the former. With a ' Unitarian 
Church ' I can have nothing to do, any more than with a Uni- 
versalist Church or a Free-will Church, or a Church of the Spirit, 
or a Church of Immortality. In the doctrines denoted by these 
several phrases I profoundly believe. But to set up any or all 
of them as conditions of an organisation for worship and holy 
living would be only to narrow the kingdom of God by the by- 
laws of intellectual egotism. 

But though he would join no ' Unitarian Church,' 
he abated not one jot of the persistence of his 

^Inquirer, Sept. ii and i8, 1875. 
« Christian Life, Jan. 5, 1878. 


Unitarian testimony ; while he reached out perpetu- 
ally to a larger fellowship of faith beyond. As 
he reached threescore years and ten, his age and 
eminence brought him constant appeals for intro- 
ductions, prefaces, obituary notices, and memorial 
inscriptions. They sometimes made large demands 
upon his time, but he never failed to respond with a 
singular generosity.^ In the vacation of 1875, 
which was spent in Yorkshire, he devoted three 
weeks to the preparation of an introductory chapter 
to a reissue of the Retrospect of the Religious Life 
of England by his late friend, the Rev. J.J. Tayler. 
It involved a survey of the ecclesiastical movements 
and the theological tendencies of a quarter of a cen- 
tury ; but so rich were his resources of observation 
and memory that it was composed apart from books 
among the Yorkshire moors. Emerging from his 
retirement at the opening of the noble Church 
(April, 1876) reared at Nottingham on the old 
' High Pavement ' site, he recited the incident — 
the death of his friend, the young minister, Henry 
Turner, — which had sent him into the ministry,^ and 
pleaded for the closest union between religion and 
liberal culture. His friendship with Dean Stanley, 
and his sense of the dignity of a great historic 
worship, drew him often to the Abbey on a Sunday 
afternoon. With the type of religious character 
and life fostered by Anglican devotion he had a 

1 In like manner bis aid was invoked by the Hibbert Trustees 
to obtain the consent of Prof. Max Miiller to deliver their first 
course of Hibbert Lectures. A copious correspondence led to 
pleasant friendship. 

2 See chap. I. p. 24. 


profound sympathy in spite of his divergence from 
the creeds. He might criticise severely the attitude 
of personal humiliation and the theory of mediatorial 
approach to God, on which the liturgy of the Estab- 
lishment is founded; yet he realised through the 
prayers and hymns of the Church a sympathy of 
aspiration which he sometimes missed elsewhere, 
and could assimilate through dogmatic forms wholly 
imreal to him. When the Life of his old friend 
Dr. P. P. Carpenter revealed to him a wide departure 
from the theology of their more intimate relations 
a generation before,^ he uttered this feeling to the 
Rev. R. L. Carpenter, Jan. 9, 1880 : — 

I gather that latterly Philip's theology had verged a good deal 
towards the orthodox modes of conception, — at least so far as 
to justify to himself his strong sympathy with the characteristic 
expression, in religious literature, art, and life, of the devotion 
of Christendom. I have a deep fellow-feeling with him here. 
Though I cannot in the least appropriate the Church theory of 
Christianity, I feel sure that the affections which have taken 
shelter in it belong to the inmost essence of true religion, and 
require modes of thought which our Unitarianism does not supply. 
We have rightly revolted from the Past ; but have not found the 
Faith of the Future. 

It was not wonderful, then, that he should express 
to Miss Catherine Winkworth his admiration of 
Canon Liddon at St. Paul's ; repeating emphatically, 
' He is a great preacher, and I was surprised to find 
how much I agreed with him.'* On the other hand, 
he could in no way modify his condemnation of 
unveracious conformity. ' I fear the Broad Church 
scepticism goes much deeper than is commonly 
suspected,' he wrote to Miss Anna Swanwick, Oct. 

I See chap. VIII, p. 267. 
* Ltfe of Catherine Winkworth, ii. p. 620 ; Feb. 19, 1874. 


3, 1880 : ' Had the worship of God the reality 
belonging to speech with men, the tongue would 
cleave to the roof of the mouth before it could utter 
so many hes in it.' 


Many were the friendships which gathered round 
him in these later days, partly through the Meta- 
physical Society, partly through the wider interests 
of literature, philosophy, and reUgion. With old 
intimates, like the Rev. W. H. Channing, Mr. R. 
H. Hutton, or Mr. W. R. Greg, Miss Anna Swanwick, 
the sisters Winkworth, or Miss Cobbe, the ties of 
interest, S5anpathy, and affection remained unbroken, 
and the experience of years only enriched them. 
In 1869 he paid his first visit to Tennyson ; ' He 
struck us as having a wonderful and subtle mind,' 
noted Mrs. Tennyson in her journal,^ ' he is mournful 
and tender-looking, " a noble gentleman." ' His 
students remembered that one day a stranger, 
tall and bearded, clad in a long black cloak and 
large felt hat, actually ventured to interrupt a class, 
and carry off their Principal a quarter of an hour 
before the time was up. To Browning, too, he 
became much attached, though his fastidious sense 
of form found less satisfaction in his poetry than 
in the Laureate's. In the varied intercourse which 
was freely opened to him, he played his part always 
with dignity, sometimes also with amused enjoyment, 
yet with a certain solitariness of soul. Now, it 
was Mr. Goldwin Smith, who had been ' much 

^ Nov. I ; Memoir, vol. ii. p. 83. 


struck, on returning to this country, with the 
enormous spread of absolute and aggressive Atheism 
among the educated Enghsh, as well as the general 
disintegration of rehgious belief throughout a still 
wider stratum of society less dogmatically disposed.' 
Next he reported a discussion at the Metaphysical, 
when Archbishop Manning had extemporised the 
very best imsiginable account of Butler's great argu- 
ment in the Analogy, ' the result, doubtless, of his 
Oxford training.' Or he had been walking with 
Carlyle, who vehemently denounced a joiner working 
in his house for ' brealcing all the Ten Commcind- 
ments at once with every stroke of his hammer.' 
At the annual inspection of the Portland British 
Schools there was always a colloquy with Mr. Mat- 
thew Arnold. ' They say I am conceited,' remarked 
the Inspector and Apostle of Culture on one occasion, 
— and the Secretary and Principal permitted himself 
a sHght reproduction of his critic's drawl, — ' did you 
ever hear anjrthing so monstrously absurd and 
palpably ridiculous ? ' The walls of the Deanery 
at Westminster doubtless hold many interesting 
secrets ; they did not echo anything which more 
tickled Dr. Martineau's sense of hmnour than 
the courageous Dean's lament over a brother 
dignitary, ' There is nothing more to be got from 
T — . He has given up the miracles, and there 
he sticks ! ' 

The summer of 1875 found him in Yorkshire, 
drawn thither partly by personal memories, and 
partly by interest in scenery which had been dear 
to Mr. Tayler. To the Rev. D. Agate, with the 
delightful expansiveness which often marked his 


letters to his old students, he wrote from the neigh- 
bourhood of Byland Abbey, near Helmsley, on 
Aug. 4, welcoming the report of his correspondent's 
settlement at Hunslet, Leeds, and recalling the 
impressions of half a century. 

I do not know whether it is possible for the London College 
life to leave the deep and permanent impressions which some 
of us elders owe to the quieter and more monastic years of our 
training at York. This summer has brought me back among the 
old scenes, and made me once more intensely conscious of the 
influence concentrated in that section of my life. On my way 
hither, I indulged myself with playing gmde to my party through 
the old city of York, and spent two or three hours with my dear 
and venerable Tutor and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Kenrick, now 
inhabiting the house where we received all our theological lectures. 
Never was there an old age more marked than theirs by unabated 
freshness of mind and heart. They must both be considerably 
above 80, and Mr. Kenrick not much under go.^ This neighbour- 
hood (of Rievaulx) I visited just fifty years ago with my most 
intimate College friend, Francis Darbishire, when we were both 
of as out of health, — he alas I with the first symptoms of the 
consumption which in a few years carried him off. I seem to 
meet his image in every spot we admired together, and to hear 
his voice amid the old abbey ruins. We are about to take our 
leave, however, of this country : and after this week shall be at 
Greta Bridge Inn, Barnard (istle. 

At Greta Bridge the great beeches of Rokeby 
Park overshadowed their rooms, and the gurgling 
of the stream was heard at their open windows. 
It was ' the very perfection of river scenery.' 
Memories of Mr. Tayler's admiration mingled with 
the murmuring waters ; and Dr. Martineau wrote 
on Sept. 14, ' Yesterday we made a pilgrimage to 
Catterick, that we might not fail in our tribute 
of veneration to the founder of Essex Street Chapel.' 
But the 'annual Caledonian fever' returned next year, 
and they spent no more vacations south of the Tweed. 

> He was 87. On his death two years later, May 7, 1877, Dr. 
Martineau paid a noble tribute to his old teacher, Essays, i. 397. 


His family union had been Dr. Martineau's 
constant joy and support. But this autumn heard 
the first note of coming sorrow. With the departure 
from Liverpool in 1857, something passed out of 
Mrs. Martineau's life which was never regained. 
To the students of the sixties whom she welcomed 
to her house, she seemed the bright and gracious 
presence, radiant with intelligence and sympathy. 
Only those who had seen her in the brilliance of 
her early hfe, knew that she slowly drooped, — and 
that the London years brought with them a very 
gradual decline of power. To Mr. Thom, the be- 
loved companion in so many vicissitudes, her hus- 
band told his secret, Nov. 25, 1875 : * she forgets 
nothing and no one she has ever loved : but new 
information is soon erased. ... It would have 
made a great difference to her latter days, if she had 
had grandchildren. No hfe without its shadows. 
But there are many blessed lights between.' 

The time was arriving when the Teacher, at 
three-score years and ten, was to see one after an- 
other of his friends and contemporaries summoned 
to the higher hfe. To each memory in turn some 
tender and truthful word was consecrated. Now 
it was the Senior Pastor of Lewin's Mead, Bristol ; 
of whom he wrote to his junior colleague, the Rev. 
A. N. Blatchford, Jan. 17, 1876, ' I believe that 
few of his associates felt more than I have always 
felt, the winning power of Mr. James's affectionate, 
devout, and faithful character.' Next he was called 
to s)mipathise with the great bereavement of 
Francis William Newman : ' If ever the Heavenly 
Father received from this world a faithful soul, 


wholly possessed by love of him, without any re- 
mains of self-reserve, it is in this translation of your 
dear wife. And never in my experience has the 
married life traced its way with diviner wisdom 
and affection, through those inner vicissitudes 
which are severer tests of character than any out- 
ward shocks of circumstance, than in your forty 
years of home companionship.' Ere the year ran 
out, his old fellow-student, Dr. J. R. Beard, finished 
the tale of his labours : ' Of all my former College 
companions, no one has less loitered on his way, 
or left behind him the witness of more completed 
work.' With January, 1877, came the death of 
the last surviving cousin resident in the city of his 
birth. ' To us elders, bom on the spot,' he wrote 
to his sister, Mrs. Higginson, ' this cannot but 
seem the virtual extinction of the true family 
colony at Norwich.' Breaking through the rule he 
had imposed upon himself, he said the last words 
over her grave. 

The summer of 1877 saw him established in the 
occupancy of the little estate which became his 
Scottish home for the rest of his life. On a plateau 
in the valley of the Spey, more than 700 feet above 
the sea, about two miles from Aviemore, stood a 
cottage, which admitted of enlargement for his 
modest wants, in the midst of some seven acres 
of ground. This was ' the Polchar,' of which he 
took possession with a full enjoyment of its domestic 
interests. ' You would be amused,' he reported 
to Miss Anna Swanwick, Aug. 15, 1877, ' to see how 
completely and naturally we have settled upon the 
level of the agricultural mind, and are transformed 


into cow-keepers, gardeners, ha5miakers, drivers, 
grooms, and practise half the town-crafts besides, 
of carpenter, smith, painter, upholsterer, and 
plumber. By dint of combined industry we have 
brought our little cottage and half-a-dozen acres 
into something like order, and are not ashamed to 
ask a friend to come and look out of our windows 
on the Grampians.' Many, indeed, were to share 
this privilege, including his correspondent herself, 
in later years. But the opening joys of occupation, 
and of long mountain-walks, were abruptly cut short 
by the rapid failure of strength which made it urgent 
to carry Mrs. Martineau to London in the middle 
of September. Inexpressibly sorrowful were those 
autumn months. At first she could still enjoy the 
music and conversation of the family circle for two 
hours or more each evening. But the intervals of 
collectedness grew rarer ; while the Teacher still 
sat in his study, thankful to concentrate his energies 
on a new course of lectures, punctually written 
week by week. On Nov. 9 his ' nearest and dearest 
of friends ' passed from his side. She was seventy- 
three, and they had been married nearly nine-and- 
forty years. 

Many were the letters, prompted by the love of 
friends, which brought comfort to the lonely thinker 
in the hour of his grief ; and to each he did not fail 
to send reply. 

To the Rev. S. A. Steinthal. 

November 16, 1877. 

Of no sympathy in this bereavement could we feel 
more assured than of yours and your dear wife's. Yet 
when your true words speak out so tenderly what we 


already believed, they sink into our hearts, and constrain 
us to some grateful response. It is only the Lancashire 
friends of twenty years ago, that can fully apprehend 
what my dear wife was in her days of happiest energy — 
how large her heart, how simple her self-devotion, how 
full of sunshine her whole nature. Her faithful affec- 
tions did not bear transplanting, and could not strike 
root twice ; so that I have often feared it was a fatal 
mistake in me to make the remove to London. At least 
to that change I trace the first faint touch of the shad- 
ows which more and more gathered around her to the 
end. However, they have passed away, and she 
forgives me now ; and those that descend upon me shall 
be only sacred, and not grievous, till they too are scat- 
tered by the dawn. I am thankful not to have been 
disappointed of the last privilege of love — that of 
bending over and soothing the sufferings of the spent and 
weary nature, and letting the dear one never be without 
the touch of the trusted hand. The lonely path is 
spared to her who was the less able to bear it. 

To the Rev. T. E. Poynting. 

November 16. 
. . . I thank you for an assurance of sjmipathy 
in which I should have trusted, though you had not 
spoken it. The rest and silence are indeed solemn, 
when the dear object of incessant thought and care 
asks nothing more, and sinks into the last peace. But, 
by the mercy of God, the same love which ceases to 
watch and soothe, begins to hope, and refuses to re- 
linquish its continuity. The ' triple cord ' is not broken, 
but only passes midway through the dark ; and the end 
which remains in my hand will be my clue along the 
short path which I have to tread alone. Leaning on my 
children and my younger friends, I shall try to turn the 
days entrusted to me, be they more or fewer, to some 
account in the service for which we have both of us 
sought to live. 


To the Rev. J. E. Carpenter. 

November 14th. 

Till yesterday's sad ofl&ces were over, I could hardly 
trust mjreelf to any expression of gratitude for your 
touching and sustaining words of sympathy. You stand 
at the blessed opening of a relation which, so far as it is 
within the reach of death, has just closed for me. And 
in reading over the letters of 1827--8 which passed 
between Bristol and Dublin on the one hand, and Derby 
on the other, and letting the colouring of the present 
hour fall upon them, I see how well the beginning and 
the end of a life-long companionship understand each 
other, and, in spite of all circumstantial contrasts, break 
into the same tones and are blended into the same story, 
by the pervading power of an imperishable love. May 
the dear God of our Uves delay for you this experience 
of the unity of all our years as long as it has been delayed 
for me ! 

I willingly own that the smxender has not been asked 
of me too soon, and accept with patience the lonely 
survivorship which she is spared. It cannot be long ; 
and is cheered, while it lasts, by home affections, and 
sacred memories, and transcendent hopes. And the 
quiet duties that yet remain suffice to preserve still the 
interest and value of life, at least for my own conscience, 
and perhaps in some measure for others. It is, more- 
over, the privilege and comfort of my old age, to see the 
work to which I have been called already taken up by 
younger labourers who will carry it on in a like spirit, 
only with greater resource and a higher faithfulness. In 
this hour of sorrow I need to recall these things. 

To the Rev. Dendy Agate. 

November 15. 

. . . With the companionship of my children, 

and the friendship of my pupils, in whose career I live 

again, I should indeed be ungrateful if I gave way to 

repining sorrow, instead of patiently holding on through 


the short remaining way. The Everlasting Love enfolds 
both worlds, and may unite the parted, there and here, 
in one spirit of duty and affection* 


The bereaved Teacher resumed his work with 
unabated steadfastness. In his usual calm de- 
meanour few could guess what deeps of sorrow lay 
beneath. College affairs engrossed much of his 
attention. Plans for removal to Oxford, which he 
could not approve, were under discussion. He 
thought of resigning, for his colleague, the Rev. 
C. B. Upton, who had already relieved him of part, 
was preparing to sustain the fuU burden, of his work. 
To Mr. Thom, whose advice he constantly sought, 
and who had already endured his own trial, he re- 
vealed the yearnings on which his lips were sealed 
(Nov. 24, 1877), ' Ah ! how vain is it to tell us that 
our affections are measured out to us upon the scale 
of this life, and have done their work when we have 
buried what we love. Are they not fresher in age 
and loneliness than ever before ? ' But the two 
great courses on Ethics and the Philosophy of 
ReUgion went on continuously ; the former destined 
to still further enrichment, the latter being entirely 
re-written on a new design and a far larger scale. 
Over the contemplated resignation a compromise 
was effected. The Principal took flight to his 
Scotch home early in May, returning for the annual 
week of examinations at the end of June ; and he 
did not resume his lectures till November. To 
this arrangement of his year he remained constant, 
and no persuasions could tempt him to further travel. 


His early retreat from the fatigues of London 
set him face to face with new interests and beauties. 
' I have brought some books with me,' he reports 
on June i, 1878, to Prof. Knight, ' but at present 
the weeds in my garden and the sim-gleams on the 
woods and hUls are too much for my studious 
resolves.' On Jime 12, 1879, he wrote to the Rev. 
C. J. Street, ' The weather is so delightful, and this 
country so magnificent, in its rare combination of 
winter on the snow-clad mountains, spring in the 
forest that climbs them, and summer in the strath 
and its woods below, that it will not be easy to tear 
one's self away. Yet it is in passing from the 
silence of nature to the stir of human life, that 
one learns the fuU significance of each.' 

Meanwhile he prepared a second volume of 
Hours of Thought, which was issued towards the 
close of 1879. ' To friends of my own standing,' 
he wrote to the Rev. C. Wicksteed (Dec. 22, 1879), 
' it may perhaps say something that they care for : 
to others it wiU at least record what the retiring 
generation deemed true and sacred. And that is 
perhaps the fitting witness for an old man to bear, 
ere his voice is finally silenced.'* Next year it is 
the Spinoza volume that occupies him : to Miss 
Anna Swanwick he light-heartedly describes himself 
(Oct. 3, 1880) as ' pla3nng the fool all over the 
precipices of the Cairngorms, and scouring the 
forests like a Blackfoot Indian,' and adds : ' Some 
little work, however, connected with my Spinoza 

1 His voice was actually heard in St. James's Hall, when he 
delivered a brilliant address at the Channing Centenary, on April 
7, 1880 ; printed in the Reports of the Centenary Meetings. 


studies I have been able to get through ; and 
though the final writing has yet to come, the man, 
the times, and the system, lie pretty clearly under 
my eye, so that I am ready to lift the veil and take 
the photograph. But I linger till I see what I have 
yet to learn from Frederick Pollock's important work.' ^ 
In the summer of 1881 it happened that no student 
was leaving the College to whom words of valediction 
should be said. The occasion was seized by the old 
pupils of every age of service to invite an Address 
from their Teacher. It was a moving petition, 
and he assented with joyful alacrity ; yet the effort 
brought its own pain. From the chapel, crowded 
in every part, where he once more stood in his old 
pulpit,^ he turned, a few days later, in his Scotch 
seclusion, to his friend Thom : ' In my preparations 
for duties of this kind I deeply feel my loneliness ; 
and sadly sigh for your companionship, — lost before 
the time, — and that of Tayler, withdrawn by the 
better Will to which it is more easy and tranquil 
to submit. I am happy in many yovmg lives 
that are a joy to me. But the dear equals, who have 
made my life and still make it what it is, have left 
me ; or, like W. Greg, are now but the wreck of what 
they were. However, it is but a little longer that 
we stand and wait.' 

1 When he returned to London, it was to a quieter and more 
spacious house, 35, Gordon Square. 

* At the Valedictory Services his addresses were delivered from 
the more intimate proximity of the reading-desk below. The 
address this time was pubUshed immediately, in response to 
unanimous and prompt request, under the title ' Loss and Gain 
in Recent Theology,' Essays, iv. 317. Its positions were after- 
wards reproduced with ample argument in The Seat of Authority, 
see below, chap. XVI. p. 586. 



The season brought its succession of happy visitors, 
among them, the Rev. O. B. Frothingham, of 
Boston. It was the habit of the host to advise 
his guests about their journey, inform them of the 
trains, and meet that which they selected with 
his phaeton. The American visitor was duly 
welcomed at Aviemore in the morning, and driven 
to the Polchar. After lunch, he related subsequently, 
Dr. Martineau proposed to walk or drive again. 
' If we walk,' said his guest, ' where should we go 
to ? ' The veteran climber pointed to a height 
of some 2,000 feet commanding a noble view. ' I 
preferred the drive,' confessed Dr. Frothingham.^ 
But sadness mingled with these pleasures. Dean 
Stanley passed away in July, and with him (wrote 
Dr. Martineau sorrowfully) ' the greatest personal 
power I have ever known.'* Mr. W. R. Greg was 
released in the autumn :^ next spring English 
philosophy was the poorer by the death of Prof. 
T. H. Green ; and American Unitarianism mourned 
for Bellows and Dewey ; while the EngUsh-speaking 
world lamented Emerson. The friends of early 
and middle life were dropping fast. ' Green's death,' 
he wrote (to Prof. Knight. April 17, 1882) ' is a 

1 Next year the host urgently pressed the Rev. C. Wicksteed 
to come and meet Mr. Thom, and ' re-enact the old Prospective 
meeting, before there is another vacant place in our quartet. . . 
Think whether we cannot repeat, before we are further separated, 
those nodes ambrositma of our youth.' 

* To the Rev. J. H. Thom, Life, ii. 93. The last letter, found 
on the Dean's desk, written the day before his death, was ad- 
dressed to him, and concerned a plan for mutual help to a common 
friend. Dr. Martineau was prevented by an attack of lumbago 
from going to the funeral. Letter to Prof. Knight, Aug. lo, 1881. 

3 In the Nineteenth Century, 1883, February, Dr. Martineau 
reviewed again his friend's earlier book, The Creed of Christendom. 

§vj DEATH OF T. H. GREEN, 1882 499 

grave sorrow to me. No philosophical thinker of 
our time seemed to me so thorough and so large, 
though I Gould never go with him into his Hegelian 
formulas. I always hoped that, working in the 
line of Moral philosophy, he would emerge from 
them, especially with the aid of his strong religious 
feeling.'^ But the imwearied Teacher still held 
on his way. He sent words of earnest greeting 
to the National Conference of Unitarian and other 
Non-subscribing Congregations, which held its first 
meeting in Liverpool, April 18-20, iSSa.** Next 
year, his old friends of the Provincial Assembly 
of Lancashire and Cheshire despatched two of 
their number with an Address, signed by ninety- 
eight Ministers, and one hundred and forty-eight 
lay-members, to the Polchar, to beg him to preach 
to them in Cross Street Chapel, Manchester. He 
took them a walk towards the Grampians. They 
passed a gate, with a narrow turnstile at the side. 
' I measure my friends here,' he said gaily : ' some 
can get through the stile, some want the gate open- 
iag.' The deputation passed the test, but they 
did not get through their business as easily. He 
listened gravely to their pleadings, but his answer 
was final. He had recently had to consult Sir 
Andrew Clark for weakness of the heart, and had 
been strictly ordered to avoid all emotional excite- 
ment, as any serious strain might prove fatal. ' I 
could not preach in Cross Street Chapel,' he said, 
' without being deeply touched by old associations 

1 Prof. Knight's Retrospects, first series, p. 13s. 
^ See the Conference Report, p. 81. 


and old memories ; and though there is nothing I 

shotild like better than to die in the pulpit, I want 

to finish my books first. I am engaged on the 

revision of my two works, Types of Ethical Theory, 

and A Study of Religion, and I have instructed my 

daughters that if I die before it is completed, they 

are to bum every page.' There was nothing more 

to be said.^ 

In quiet ways, however, the philosopher continued 

his old interests in public affairs, and his mind played 

romid many a theme of public concern. A few 

passages from his correspondence will tell their 

own tale. 

To Em. Prof. F. W. Newman. 

London, April 15, 1882. 
My dear Newman, 

I concur entirely in all the general principles of your excellent 
tract on the Right and Duty of the State to enforce sobriety ; 
provided only that the ' Duty ' be understood as conditional 
of the ' Possibility.' Whatever difficulties I feel, concentrate 
themselves on this last word. Total abstinence, however desir 
able as the best thing, cannot be instituted by law ; and if alcohol 
must be left, as you wisely advise, procurable at will by persons 
apparently unobjectionable, sobriety is left a matter of degree, 
the judgment of which is entrusted to a subordinate public officer. 
A Publican is required to refuse drink to a person who is evidently 
unfit to have more : this is a harmless authority, because the 
evidences of its right or wrong use are conspicuous to bystanders 
and can be matters of attestation. But if your ' Agent of Sales ' 
is to refuse at discretion to sell, he will have to go behind the 
present moment and judge of the applicant's private allowance 
and use of drink and mode of life. This is to invest him with a 
dangerous and inquisitorial power. 

Within the wide limits of moral gradation short of public 
crime, I am convinced that though much harm may be done 
by legal negligence, no positive good can be effected except by 
convincing and purifying the consciences of men, one by one; 
and Law which goes materially beyond the requirements of the 
average conscience will prove inefficacious. Nor can I feel much 

^ Communicated by the Rev. H. E. Dowson. The formal 
correspondence was printed in the Inquirer, Oct. 13, 1883. 


confidence in Elective Boards as interpreters of the general 
conscience, entitled by right of majority, to regulate the private 
life of the minority. Nothing can well be less satisfactory 
than the prevailing results of our rate-paying elections ; and the 
multiplication of representative bodies is becoming an unmanage- 
able nuisance. The sort of ' Public Opinion ' which expresses 
itself in Elections does not impress me with much respect ; 
and I should like to save a good deal of private life from its dicta- 
tion. And if any prerogative at all is to be left to the individual 
will, it must include, I think, the determination of what he eats 
and drinks. 

However, I am quite in favour of trying the effect of withdraw- 
ing alcoholic drinks from the sphere of competition, and commit- 
ting their sale to public officers. And I am quite against the 
establishment of asylums for drunkards. The power of giving 
to wife or husband prohibition orders to the drink-shops would 
be subject I fear to serious abuse, unless the ' legal formalities ' 
were such as to make it a judicial award instead of a personal act. 

Long as I have been in thanking you for your note and pam- 
phlet, it has not been through negligence. Till Easter brought 
me a few da5's' relief, I could not dismount from the tread-mill 
of my Fach, to indulge in a little English and Common Sense. 
In a day or two I return to the inexorable wheel. 

Ever affectionately yours, 

James Martineau. 

35, Gordon Square, London, Nov. 27, 1882. 
My dear Newman, 

The St. Bartholomew Poem, — which I hope would safely 
reach you yesterday, — interested me intensely, — completing for 
me the paradoxical romance of your brother's Ufe. How such 
a mind can relinquish the healthy national sympathies which 
inspired this poem, at the bidding of the petty scruples and 
ecclesiastical puzzle.s of which the Apologia tells the story, is 
to me utterly unintelligible. But as there is something in his 
writings that wins my total trust in his goodness, as well as 
admiration for his genius, I always suppose that there must be 
a missing half of me, the absence of which disqualifies me for a 
complete appreciation of his larger soul. Your account of your 
relation to him in 1824 agrees exactly with the interpretation 
which I had myself put upon Mozley's fancy sketch. I am gossip 
enough to find his ' Reminiscences ' still interesting in the 2nd 
vol., though anything more pitiably chaotic than his own state 
of mind in relation to ReUgion, as depicted by himself, I certainly 
never encountered. I can well beheve that his memory is not 
to be trusted : for whenever I can check it (the instances are but 
few), I find it inaccurate. The story, e.g., of the origin of the 
' London Review,' with which I had personal connections from 
the first, is far from correct, attributing to the Oriel men an 
initiative and an influence which belonged wholly to J. S. Mill, 


Sir W. Molesworth, and a few ' Philosophical Radicals ' dis- 
satisfied with the management of the ' Westminster ' by Bowring. 
By Jeremy Bentham's death in 1832, it had passed into his hands : 
and two years' experience sufficed to show that the Head-Quarters' 
stafi of the Utilitarian army could never work under orders from 

You dtd remember me twice in the distribution of the ' Coming 
Revolution.' — giving me a good excuse for twice reading it. 
As always with what you write, it is full of interest for me, — in 
this case about equally divided between sympathy and dissent. 
I cannot think the time so much out of joint as you do ; or admit 
the justice of your estimate of the proceedings at Alexandria. 
But nothing is more fruitless than controversy on matters of 
this kind, where there exists to begin with, a totally different 
conception in A. and B., of the fact on which judgment is to be 
passed. So I will refrain from justifying my contentment, 
on the whole, with the government action in Egyptian affairs.^ 

^ Dr. Martineau was not now a supporter of Mr. Gladstone. 
In 1880 he voted for a Conservative. Meeting Mr. Gladstone 
one day soon after his return to power, he said to him, ' What 
an opportunity you have for the great work before you — the 
consolidation of the Empire.' Mr. Gladstone shrugged his 
shoulders and said, ' Oh, I don't know about that. I^e clerks 
in the Colonial Office have got too much to do already.' (Miss 
Cobbe, Contemp. Rev., Feb., 1900, p. 177.) At the last College 
debate over which he presided, in the spring of 1885, he expressed 
most gloomy views of the advance of democracy (the franchise 
had recently been conferred on the agricultural labourer) : his 
final words long haunted one of his hearers, ' to go to the bottom 
as we have recently done, seems to me little short of lunacy.' 
Later in the same year he wrote to a correspondent at Chicago, 
' I have always been what is called a Liberal, but the measures 
contemplated by the party now bearing that name appear to 
me utterly at variance with the principles, social, constitutional, 
economical, international, which gave a rational cohesion to the 
reformers of an earlier generation. And the secret consciousness of 
this, suppressed by cowardice and partisan ambition, is eating 
like a canker into the sincerity of our public life, and lowering 
its temper and its standard of honour. The humiliating story 
of Gladstone's ministry will not prevent its return to power ; 
and we shall have to suffer more from political incapacity and 
passion, before any repentant action sets in. PoUticcU ambition 
is vastly more djffused than hitherto : oratory has more influence 
than character and wisdom : and to promise the impossible 
is a surer game than to counsel the best practicable. Under these 
conditions parliamentary government is not hopeful. I wish 
this may be only the croaking of old age." Atlantic Monthly, 
Oct., 1900, p. 496. 


Do not despair of me, however, I shall always listen to what 
you have to say, as 

Your affectionate, 

James Martzneao. 

To Mrs. Henry Turner. 

London, April 22, 1883. 
My dear Catherine, 

Many as were the affectionate greetings that brightened my 
birthday, it was your letter that made it a golden day. It is 
delightful to me to read in your hand-writing exactly the record 
of inward experience and the condensed lesson of so many years, 
which I also should register as the spiritual essence and issue of 
life. Many things have changed in us and around us since an 
early sorrow mingled something of a common sanctity with our 
lives. But one thing remains — Rest in the Love of God, and 
Trust of all our treasures and ourselves to Him for ever. This 
is the ' Light at eventide ' that seems to bring back the very 
colours and sweetness of the dawn. In some respects I am 
conscious, with you, of being out of sympathy with the recent 
movements of thought and tendencies in society, and especially 
with the drift of our Church Ufe ; and I seriously believe that the 
future of English Religion must be looked for on other lines 
than ours. But the eternal deposit will not want for faithful 
hands, though it be taken up by those we know not. It is 
meanwhile very cheering to me to see so large a number of young 
men, far superior to the average, pressing forward into the ministry. 
Never, during my connection with it, has our College been in 
so satisfactory a state as it is now. It animates me to new efforts 
to complete, if life allows, some unfinished tasks of which I had 
almost despaired ; and during the last two years, I have made 
more progress than I dared to hope. It is not in the study or 
the lecture-room that I am sensible of my advancing years, 
so much as in society. Yet I am going, with Edith, to pay a few 
days' visit to the Master of Balliol at the end of this week, — a 
daring venture is it not ? But it is two years since I was there ; 
and the days which he always lays out for me there always 
supply me with a store of memorable impressions of persons 
and things. It delights me that you find refreshment of spirit 
in the hymn-book. To me there is an untiring charm in a 
good hymn. I hardly know how it is that the freshness never 
fades. Yours very affectionately, 

James Martineao. 
To the Rev. J. H. Thom. 

London, May 20^ 1883. 
. . . . E. and I, during a few days at BalUol lately, met Prof. 
SeUar and his lively daughters, whom, I think, you know, — for 
they spoke most warmly of you. They are most agreeable people. 


always ready with something fresh and bright on subjects grave 
or gay. With them was the new Greek Professor at Edinburgh, 
Butcher, and his wife, — a daughter of Archbishop Trench, — both 
of them accomplished and interesting persons, and the Professor 
marked out, if I mistake not, for eminence as a scholar and a 
thinker. I saw a good deal also of Canon Fremantle (whom I 
previously knew in town), and heard him deliver an admirable 
Bampton Lecture in St. Mary's, carrying out into concrete 
application a conception, Uke Arnold's, of the Church of Christ 
as co-extensive with the world, cind embracing the ensemble 
of human relations ; not in the sense of ecclesiastical claim 
over the secular, but in that of Divine acceptance, under whatever 
guise, of all faithful service and right affection. . . . His loss 
will be much felt in West London, where he had estabhshed a 
most effective organisation of his Church district, with lay super- 
vision over every street. 

To Mr. B. B. Wilby, Chicago.^ 

London, Jan. 31, 1884. 
I felt sure from the first that Mr. Thom's volume, The Laws 
of Life, would find a just appreciation with the best part of your 
reading public ; and the longer it is known, the higher will be 
its place. ... It is curious to contrast the humble fate of such 
a book with the astounding circulation of Mr. George's Progress 
and Poverty ; which, I am sorry to say, has dizzied the heads of 
not a few men here from whom more clearness and stability 
might have been expected. This is largely due to an excellent 
and hopeful characteristic of the time, — an intense compassion 
for the lot of the lowest class of our population, — the feeble in 
body and character who are beaten in the race of life, and drop 
by the wayside. The sense of something wrong in the sufferings 
and sins of this class is so deep and disturbing to many minds 
that they lose the power of calmly studying the real relations 
of cause and effect in the life of society, and are ready to fling 
themselves, like a patient tired out by a chronic malady, into the 
hands of any plausible quack who is loud enough in his confidence 
and large enough in promises for his panacea. Mr. George's 
personal presence, however, has apparently gone far to neutralise 
the influence of his book ; and I think his day is nearly over 
here. The SociaUstic tendency which has favoured him still 
remains, and fosters, I must think, very dangerous illusions, 
with which, unhappily, party leaders are willing to play for 
political ends. 

To Em. Prof. F. W. Newman. 

The Polchar, July 27, 1884. 
I am just as thankful to you for sending me your little book, 
as if it had promised support to my long-cherished convictions, 

^Atlantic Monthly, Oct.. 1900, p. 494 


It will very likely be painful to me : but I am well aware that 
this is due to my weakness, and not to its fault ; and that I ought 
to acquiesce with untroubled mind in differeAces of judgment 
which leave absolutely unweakened all my trust and afiection 
towards you. Nay, more : it is a good which I should be the 
last to underrate, to have a new shock delivered, by a hand so 
strong and true as yours, upon whatever may even seem unsound 
in one's belief and feeling. If it will not bear this test, it is time 
that it should go. I have no real sympathy with the quietists, 
who are for reticence on these tender topics ; but own the frank 
assertion of deliberate opinion to be just as binding upon you, 
as upon those whom you desire to correct. Far from asstiming 
my interpretation of the character of Jesus ' as a religious axiom,' 
I at least take it to be legitimately drawn from critical study 
of the early history of Christianity : and probably a main source 
of the difference between your conception and mine may be, 
that you retain as historical a great deal more of the Synoptic 
Gospels than I do. If I felt myself bound by your critical 
premisses, I should be brought very near to your moral conclusion. 
But it appears to me more and more evident that the Messianic 
version of the ministry of Jesus, as presented in the Synoptics 
and Acts, is altogether a superinduced construction, giving just 
as much an invented edition of the original reaUty as the Nicene 
doctrine of a later century. Of course, this raises the question 
' What then do we, or can we, know, about the Author in his 
true personality ? ' and I admit the difficulty of rendering an 
answer thatcan. speak satisfactorily except to those who have some 
faith in processes of a .somewhat refined internal criticism. Yet 
I beUeve that materials of comparison exist, — at present little 
worked out, which are capable of yielding, in unsuspected ways, 
clear and important results. 

I shall hardly be able at present to turn to this class of studies ; 
being closely engaged with the bringing out (under Clarendon 
Press auspices) a book on ' Types of Ethical Theory ' : and have 
hard work to keep pace with the printers. 

With our united kindest regards. 

Ever affectionately yours, 

James Martineau. 
To Mrs. Henry Turner. 

London, Jan. 7, 1885. 
Your old lady friend, who discreetly made friends with the 
Devil, or, at least, offered to shake hands with him, before she 
died, is a most amusing personage. How curiously do the per- 
manent human weaknesses and passions contrive to make room 
for themselves and reappear under aU the changes of thought, 
which are expected to wear them out. Fifty or sixty years ago, 
it was the religious people who seemed to have the monopoly 
of orthodox exclusiveness and assurance : but now, I should say. 


the palm of intolerance and dogmatism is carried off by the 
Agnostics. To join them is apparently to lose all capacity 
for equal afiections except among themselves, and to have only 
pity and benevolence to spare for those who will accept the 
position of inferiors. The only exception that I have ever met 
with is in the instance of the late Prof. ClifEord. who, in spite of 
an almost rampant atheism, had a heart of true love towards 
friends still steeped in faith and piety. But he was young < 
and fresh himself from devout experiences which he could neither 
forget nor despise. But in his nature there was a singular 
blending of sweetness and strength : and the religion from which 
be became alienated, and which to him practically stood for the 
whole, was a puerile High-Churchism, impossible to such a mind. 


On January i, 1885, Dr. Martineau dated the 
Preface to his Types of Ethical Theory, and, shortly 
after, the two volumes were issued from the 
Clarendon Press, Oxford. When he completed his 
four-score years on April 21, he could survey a 
finished portion of his work. The birthday was 
always a festival in the home ; gifts and flowers 
added their graces to the crowd of greetings by 
letter and telegram.^ It was not surprising that 
varied tones should be heard in his repUes. 

^ Among them was an Address from Liverpool friends, 
some of whom had been among his hearers at Paradise Street. 
The reply is printed in the Life, ii. 56. From the poet Thomas 
Homblower Gill (at 67) he received a Latin verse : 

' Hand rapuit, mirande, tibi octogesimus annus 

Corporeas vfres robur et ingenii : 
Ter felix ! pede difficiles ascendere montes 

Qui posses, doctrinse edita mente simul.' 

The philosopher had enough Latin to respond : 

' Nee tibi restinxit, Vates, matura senectus 

Fervorem ingenii, Pieridumque faces : 
Pamassum superans, facilis tu victor abibis. 

Ales despiciens txdia. longa pedis. 

§vi] FOUR-SCORE YEARS, 1885 507 

To Miss Anna Swanwick. 

London, April 25, 1885. 
Rich as my life has been in friendships, there now survive few 
indeed that I <;an assign to the first rank ; and of these yours is, 
with two exceptions, the oldest, and rests perhaps upon the largest 
base of sympathy, and has a record of themory absolutely un- 
clouded. And so, I well know, it will be to what we wrongly 
call ' the end.' Even four-score years, however, do not give the 
discharge from all further service, which our esisy-going grand- 
parents used to assume when they subsided into the arm-chair 
by the chimney nook, to play the part of patriarchal autocrats, 
and distribute their duties to others. And it is surely one of the 
best consequences of the modern view of life, that it dispenses 
no one from any serviceable activity for which the adequate 
faculty still remains. 

To the Rev. R. L. Carpenter. 

April 25, 1885. 
I am delighted to have the kind congratulations addressed to 
me by your brother. Dr. W. B. Carpenter, echoed by you. The 
early years of the four-score now complete are so clearly associated 
in tieir deepest interests, with your family, that I cannot be 
greeted by too many voices from that dear and sacred home. 
I thankfully lay to heart your friendly wishes, while hardly 
venturing to desire for myself so much as you would desire for 
me. The little remnant of life here is measured out by the Perfect 
Disposer of aU : and to use it faithfully is my sole aspiration. . . , 
But it is evident to me that the future of Engli,sh Religion is 
not with us. Whatever aspects of truth we rday have saved 
from neglect, whatever spiritual resources we may have rendered 
more accessible, pass into other keeping and need another ad- 
ministration, before they lay hold of the minds and hearts of men. 
It is the power of Faith that shall prevail. We have it not, 
except as a feeble residuum from the power of criticism. 

Wonderful was the activity of the weeks that 
followed. All weakness had vanished ; he was full 
of buoyant strength. Before his spring visit to 
the Polchar he found time to preside at the Jubilee 
Meeting of the London Domestic Mission on May 12.^ 

^ His speech, vivid in retrospect, and convinced in faith against 
the Pessimist, was printed with the sermon of the Rev. Charles 
Beard, under the title of Fifty Years of Domestic Missions. The 
speeches thus entrusted to the press were always written out 
with the most finished care. 


At the beginning of the College examinations, on 
Monday, June 22, he was in his place again. It 
was the last time. His resignation had been com- 
municated to the Trustees in January, and was 
now to take effect. On the evening of the 24th 
he met his old students at dinner, and with mingled 
vivacity, earnestness, and pathos, reviewed the 
changes which had taken place in the teaching 
of sixty years before, and the tone and temper of 
modem study. No one present could forget his 
warnings against the ' enervated mood ' which is 
the ' canker of manly thought and action, of godly 
life and character ' ; or his exhortation to ' take 
up drudgery with a cheerful mind ' :^ when the 
untired captain of the httle band declared in tones 
that stiU rang clear, ' Life is a battle, and conquest 
will remain only with those who have the vigour 
for victory,' what heart but went back to incon- 
spicuous labour with a new sense of the dignity 
of the fight ! With words that awoke deep emotion 
among his hearers, he bade them accept him as 
their comrade. 

I may be wrong ; but whatever humbling decrepitude may 
be in reserve for me hereafter, at the present moment neither is 
my remembrance of you dull, nor my joy in you cold. As I 
pass my glance round these tables, the successive dates that 

1 He strenuously urged that additional effort should be devoted 
to the studies which were uncongenial. An American friend once 
watched him tie up a parcel with extreme exactness, and ventured 
to enquire the reason. ' Perhaps,' said the Principal, ' because 
I hate to do it.' ' I asked him,' continued the visitor, ' if he 
thought the doing of unpleasant things especially educationaL' 
His answer was emphatic, ' Yes, I have done that all my life, 
and a great deal of our best discipline is in it. I, for instance, 
had an extreme distaste for mathematics. I have for that reason 
given special attention to those studies, going back to them 
from time to time as a means of mental and moral discipline.' 


look silently from your features count my journey for me, as 
milestones on my way ; and the only sadness is, that here and 
there, a blank has been made by early death, and the mark is 
visible only to my thought. This living itinerary is as consolatory 
to me as it is encouraging to my colleagues who will continue it, 
perhaps upon new tracks and with better speed. The future, 
like the past, will show that, without ancient pedigree or splendid 
traditions, thorough academic work may yet be done. Our 
Alma Mater is certainly no queenly personage, whose sons are 
Princes and Judges of the earth. Still, though but a City Matron, 
she sends forth honest men, whom none can deny to be, in fair 
proportion, good citizens of the States of the Republic of letters, 
and of the Kingdom of God 

The next morning he took his leave of the trustees.^ 
In the evening he once more bade farewell in the 
Chapel to the students who passed out to active 
service. That night the tale of five-and-forty years 
of labour was concluded. 

After exhausting days he might well have sought 
repose. But there were two venerable cousins 
in Clifton ; they had not met for many years ; they 
could not come to him ; and with the College echoes 
still murmuring round him, he went down to Bristol 
on Friday morning, lunched with his kinswomen, 
and returned in the afternoon. Each hour had 
its appropriate engagement till he paused at Keswick, 
the following Tuesday, with his eldest unmarried 
daughter, to stay with Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Carpenter 
in Borrowdale. Keen was his enjoyment as he 
revisited the scenes of a holiday, all but thirty years 
before, and noted the changes made in the land- 
scape by the woodland growths. He wrote out 
speeches, insisted on climbing Scafell Pike (to an 
accompaniment of philosophical discussion), presided 
over the fire at a picnic on Derwentwater, where 

^ All the speeches were printed in the Retirement Proceedings. 


the wasps (driven out of their nest below by the 
heat) took the place of the Scotch disputant, but 
could not disturb his serenity ; and left among the 
younger guests gathered to meet him, ineffaceable 
memories of vigour and graciousness, humour, 
courtesy, and charm.^ Alike in the intercourses 
of friendship as in his public service, he justified 
his own account of his career : ' On looking back 
over the remembered work of fourscore years, 
I find it all summed up in the simplest of acts — 
the unreserved expression of whatever took hold 
of me as most true and good.'^ 

1 An amusing incident showed him in characteristic light. 
On the first day's walk the party crossed from Watendlath to 
Rosthwaite, where a sheep dog attached himself to the ramblers, 
who climbed to the mountain path behind Castle Crag, under 
Maiden Moor, and descended into Grange. There a carter, 
going to Rosthwaite, who knew the dog, agreed to take him back. 
In a few minutes, however, the dog bounded into the group again 
with manifest pleasure. Dr. A^tineau was really shocked. 
' The dog ought to go back,' he said, and took up ston